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3 1711 00092 7561 














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7 1982 




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of the 


in the Strte of Illinois 

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Str.te of Illinois 

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19 4 
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in 2010 with funding from 

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John M. Caznnody, Administrator 


Howard 0, Hunter, Acting Commissioner 

Florence Kerr, Assistant Commissioner 

Charles E, Miner, Administrator for Illinois 

Evelyn S, Byron, Director Professional and Service Division 

Robert I» McKcaguc, Chief Comraiinity Servico Section 




4-1' >^:Lidi^ 


This collection of stories about 
Illinois hr.s been selected from n 
Large group of similar items that hrxve 
been sent in past months to newspapers 
in the state as a part of the Project's 
infonnt-'tion sorvice. Editors and their 
readers have received them so cordially 
that a larger field of usefulness 
seemed to bo open to them - supplemen- 
tary reading for home study groups and 

state Supervisor 



Pioneor Days in Illinois 


Wolves, oposstins, raccoons, ■^nd other v/ild ?ijiimals ivcre so 
numerous and rionoy so scr.rce during r.n ti.''.rly period in the do- 
velopnent, of Illinois thr'.t pelts v/ere frequently used by set- 
tlers "s units of cxchp.nge. One pioneor of Jefferson County 
paid taxes p.t Mount Vernon r/ith a w:igon-box full of i/olf skins, 
and on mother occasion laid down a v/olf skin in paynent for a 
purch.-^se at a grocery store. The proprietor gave hin an opos- 
sun skin in change. 


A farm given over to the growing of select colonies of 
frogs attracts the attention of nany tourists driving along 
State High\7,-ay 37 in Johnson County. The finest specinons of 
frogs r>rc imported fron Louisiana. A sheet iron fence keeps 
all the frisky tadpoles and frogs on hone territory. 


Wild pigeons, which \vere at one time so abundant in Illi- 
nois that they were reported obscuring the sun near Chicago, 
are now extinct. Taxideniists vlue specimens highly, for only 
a fe',7 are to bo found in collections. The owner of a note- 
worthy exhibit of over a thousand stuffed birds regards a wild 
pigeon shot in 1901 nerr Onkford as the ;nost vr.luable single 
specimen in the group 

Page One 

Pioneer Days In Illinoi 


Snakes were found in such large numbers in the vicinity of 
old Shiloh schoolhouse, Jefferson Oounty, early in the develop- 
ment of the state, that parents feared the existence of a d©n 
of them. The little log schoolhouse was built in the fall of 
1820. With the coming of warm spring sunshine the snakes ap- 

A holiday was declared for a snake hunt. Settlers turned 
out with clubs, axes, hoes, spades, and even guns. Snakes were 
found in every possible hiding place. The chief surprises oc- 
curcd when large objects were moved, such as logs and big 
stones. Under these vieve found groat clumps of snakes of va- 
rious kinds, as yet too cold and stiff to move. Among the 516 
snakes killed, rattlers were the most numerous. 

Similar stories are told in Vermilion County. When lots 
were offered for sale in Danville on April 1, 1827, a fine 
spring day, so many rattlers came out of their winter quarters 
that the sale had to be postponed. On this occasion it is said 
that 75 snakes were killed, some of them six feet long. 

Page Two 

Pioneer Days in Illinoi 


An annual "Mule Day" is one of the many interesting spe- 
cial celebrations held in various regions of Illinois. Especi- 
ally fine mules are raised, in White and Hamilton counties, and 
"I-iule Day" is observed the first Saturday in October at Enfield. 

A folk festival, as well as a corn show, at Hallowe'en 
time is ihe big event of each year at Mount Carmel, Wabash 
County. Several blocks of Market Street are roped off for a 
week. A pet parade :nd masked costiime contest are featured. 
Some of the exhibits of garden and farm products, needle work, 
canned goods, .-'nd beJced goods are shown in store windov/s and on 
counters, for the business men of the town are the promoters of 
the show. 

Reminiscent of merry old England is the Fox Chasers' Re- 
union held in Bell's 'Toods, east of Keensburg, VTabash County, 
for three days ench October, Foxes are still n\mierous in Wabash 
County, and fox chasers from far and near come with their dogs. 
Some of them cranp on the ground, and others find accommodations 
in Keensburg and Mount Carmel, Only fox hounds and tree dogs 
are allowed to compete in the fox hunting events, but there are 
other opportunities for competition and entiBrtainment, such as 
a daylight race and a night race for pups, a day and a night 
race for all dogs, a bench show for all classes, free shows, 
band and vocal music, and public speaking. 

Page Three 

Pioneer Days in Illinois 


Calhoun Gouiity in Illinois is nearly surrounded by '.vater. 
The Mississippi mr.rks its v/cstern --nd southern limits, raid the 
Illinois flows along its eastern boundary. On these great 
waterv/r.ys ni\d well maintained roads, all tr.-.ffic moves, for not 
a railroad crosses its borders. 

In this ri.'^rro-.7 area, gro'js about one- third of the state's 
apple crop, which is sold principa.lly to '.vholcsale buyers from 
St. Louis, New York, pjnd Chicago long before hrrvest. Orchards 
are commonly of 75 to 150 acres each. The becoity of tlic trees 
in bloom rnd in fruit dra-,vs visitors from long distances. 

Most place-names of this "apple kingdom" reflect the va- 
ried character of its surface, .?j(id the native homes or names of 
early settlers: for ex.ample, Cliff Dale, Deer Plain, Baytown, 
Silver Creek, Golden 3agle, Belleview, Becchville, Gilead, 
Bctchtown, Kampsville, Hardin, Bi-ussels, ^-.nd Hamburg. 

A ridge extending ncnrly the entire length of the county 
provides sheltering slopes, raoisture for fruits rnd grains, and 
picturesque settings for pleasant farms and towns. 

Page Four 

Pioneer Days in Illinoi 


Belief in the power of witches existed in Illinois less 
than ty;o generations ago. A Danville in?.n recalls that a far- 
mer v/ho found the mp-na of his horse badly tangled vrould usual- 
ly exclaim, "The witches have been riding youl " 

Rcse.'irch in records h'-s yielded information about a famous 
i/itch supposed to have been at nork in "^illirjnson County about 
1835. She was thought to be in league with Satan to cast spells 
and to utter curses on both men esid be-'-sts. Associ-^ted with 
this belief was another one that showed faith in the ways of a 
protecting spirit vfhich could control the witch by shooting a 
picture of her with a silver bullet. 


In the little German settlement of Burnt Hill, Hamilton 
County, Illinois, the young people go through steps of square 
dances exactly o,s did their grandp'^rents. Since a large num- 
ber of the residents play dance tunes well, music for the merry 
gatherings is gladly provided without charge. 

Page Five 

Pioneer Days in Illinoi 


Most hotels a century old in Illinois have liad .'^.s guests 
men and wonen who helped to nake history in this and other 

In 1825, the RsMings hotel, still doing business in Shnw- 
noetown, Gallatin Coixnty, entort-.ined the Mp.rquis dc LoFRyette, 
on the mcnorable occasion of his visit to Auerica on Congres- 
sional invitation. Tho 68-yer.r old general v;as traveling up 
the Ohio River to Pittsburgh, and accounts of the tine de- 
scribe a "splendid banquet" in his honor at the Hawlings. In 
the course of the festivities, LaFayette looked up from his ta- 
ble and recognized a face peeriiog at him through a v/indow as 
that of a man v/ho had been a ncmbcr of his bodyguard during tho 
Revolution, and who saved his life on one occasion. Tho gener- 
al rose from his seat^ coraiaanded that the outsider, who was 
aged and unkerapt, be brought in, LaPe^'-ctte embraced hin rnd 
gave hin a scat at the table. 

The Meraiaid Inn of Lobpjion, St. Clair Cou;ity, another his- 
toric stinacture, was built in 1830 by Lynan Adans, a retired 
sea captain. The building, which lias been changed nany tines, 
is now being used as a residence at 112 East St. Louis Street, 
on U. S. Highv/a;/ No. 50. Charles Dickens, English novelist, is 
said to have compared the old Merraaid favorably with "rny vil- 
lage alehouse of a honely kind in Englr^nd. " 

The old Ross hotel at Havana, conpleted in 1833, and no 
longer standing, provided space not only for lodging but also 
for courtrooms, judges' chambers, jury roon, and a general 
storo. Pishing, hunting, and Indians were the topics of con- 
versation during -ipjiy a hilarious evening around the big fire- 
place on trial days in the 'fifties, with such men as Abralicxi 
Lincoln, Edward Bpker, H. M. Weed, W. C. Goudy, and J. Boice 
taking turns at story telling. 

Page Six 

Pioneer Days in Illinois 


The history of Illinois is rich iu stories nbout Indians. 
Those ;^.s well as others, which frequently rclo.te obscure trage- 
dies of pioneer life, seen to be at least partly legendary in 

Among the unusually interesting narratives is one summa- 
rized in the Pocahontas News Patri ot. On the high ground, just 
north of old Greene Cemetery in Bond County, early settlers 
constructed a fort. One summer morning, two sisters went for 
water to a nearby spring on the edge of the forest. As they 
were about to return, one of them was killed by a bullet. The 
other reached the fort safely. 

The body of the dead girl was not brought back immediate- 
ly because of fear thfvt Indians were hidden by the trees. To- 
ward evening, one of the pioneers saw a movement among the 
branches of a large elm near the spring. He shot, and an In- 
dian fell to the ground, dead. 

Recently, the tree, which had become a landmark known as 
the "Indian Elm," was cut down, and in a hollow limb the head 
of a tomahawk was found. 

Page Seven 

Pioneer Days in Illinois 


Almost every community in Illinois has a monximent commemo- 
rating its citizens who lost their lives in the Civil War. 
Protably the oldest of the Civil War monuments is that at 
Byron, which stands at the intersection of Chestnut and Second 
Streets. This monument was erected during the year following 
the end of the war. Time has blurred the names on the stone 
shaft. The inscription reads: 

In memory of the Patriotic Boys of Byron 
!Vho Fell in Sutduing the Great Rebellion — 

The city of Byron, which has a mayor and councilmen, al- 
though its population is only 915, was settled mainly by New 
Englanders. They brought their abolition sentiment with them 
and made Byron a center for anti-slavery activities. It was 
quite natural, therefore, that Byron should have been ajnong the 
first to honor its Civil War Dead. 


Of especial interest to scientists are the Twin Springs in 
Twin Springs Park, Clinton, Illinois, De Witt County, from 
which 120,000 gallons of pure, slightly mineral water flow 
every twenty-four hours, without varying a gallon an hour. 
These springs are beautifully situated, feeding a 25-acre lake 
and forming a cataract 20 feet high. The laJce provides swim- 
ming, boating, and fishing. 

Page Eight 

.Pioneer Days in Illinois 


After lights had been extinguished in most of the homes at 
Saybrook, McLean County, one rainy night in October, 1863, a 
quivering young soldier in Union blue knocked at the door of a 
cottage near the edge of town. According to an early narrative 
the stranger, too exhausted to speak, was put to bed and in the 
morning was found dead. Continued efforts to learn his identi- 
ty failed. A mound in the local cemetery is still pointed out 
as the grave of Saybrook' s unknown soldier. 


In addition to seventy-five kinds of trees that are native 
to the Pilcher Park Arboretum in Joliet, many others, such as 
magnolia, sweet gum, cypress, pecan, black birch, aiid black 
cherry, were imported by John Higginbotham, the original owner 
of the tract of land, 327 acres in extent. Plans for the de- 
velopment of the area include importing trees from all over the 

This tract, formerly called the Forest of Arden, was pre- 
sented to the people of Joliet by Robert Pilcher in 1922 with 
the stipulation that it should remain in its natural state. 
Just across Hickory Creek from the Arbor6tum is a five-acre 
picnic camp, which is connected v/ith the main park by a foot- 
bridge. A flowing well fed from Laike Michigan is one of the 
features of the area. 

Page N 

Pioneer Days in Illinois 


Before the days of effective enforcement of law throughout 
Illinois, prairie bandits sometimes met with quick punishment 
by early settlers. Two markers give evidence of the activity 
of bandits in the Rock River Valley and of the means used to 
combat the outlaws. 

In VHiite Rcok Cemetery at Kings, Ogle County, the inscrip^ 
tion on a granite boulder reads: "John Campbell, assassinated 
by prairie bandits in June, 1841. His life was sacrificed for 
law and order* " Another boulder, on a nearby farm, has inscrib- 
ed on it: "J. Campbell, captain of the Regulators, shot here 
by prairie bandits, Juno 28, 1841." 

According to accounts, the presence of outlaws in Ogle, 
Lee, Whiteside, and Winnebago counties about 1840 caused the 
settlers to form a company of Regulators, with John Campbell of 
Ogle Coiinty as captain. The first move of this group, it is 
said, resulted in the capture and the whipping of a number of 
the bandits, who shortlj' retaliated by slaying Campbell. Ac- 
counts further relate that the Regulators captured the sus- 
pected slayers and executed two of them after conviction by a 
jury of 111 men. 

William Cullen Bryant visited northern Illinois in the slim- 
mer of 1841, and in Letters of a Troveller mentions the boldness 
of outlaws in the burning of the coiinty courthouse at Oregon 
City, as well as the organizing of the Regulators to combat them. 

P a g e T e n 

Pioneer Days in Illinoi 


A 40-mile horse race for a purse of $400 is one of the re- 
markable events in the history of sports in Illinois. This 
race occurred on September 10, 1855. The course was from Jer- 
seyville to Alton and return. Conditions of the race were as 
follows: "The terms of the race are to get into any shape the 
owners think best, whether in carriage or under saddle, and no 
withdrawal of the stakes under any circ\imstances, except the 
death of either of the animals." The newspaper writer who 
reported the affair in the Chicago Weekly Democrat properly re- 
ferred to it as "a test of bottom," He added self-righteously, 
"We have but little relish for such brutal sport." 


Among ten tombstones with French inscriptions that are 
still standing in a little known century-old cemetery in Taze- 
well County is one marking the grave of Jean Pierre Mougcon, 
who died in 1852, He was a soldier in the ill-fated array of 
Napoleon that merched on Moscot/ in 1812. 

Page Eleven 

Pioneer Days in Illinois 


Several instances of Illinois tovvns that ;.ioved from one 
site to another have been noted by historians. Commercial ad- 
vantages usually led to the changes, most of ',/hich occurred 
during the years of rapid industrial development. Unique, how- 
ever, is the case of Shawneetown, which is giving up its once 
commercially strategic location because of the hazard of flooda 

Founded early in the nineteenth century, Shawneetown was 
the rough-hcvm portal to the Middle Border, financial center 
and l.-.nd office for a vast territory, rendezvous of settlors, 
soldiers, explorers, .-nd rivermen, and host to such notables as 
LaF.'iyette and Charles Dickens. Its early economic advpjatage 
lay almost wholly in its strategic site on the banks of the 
Ohio, an advantage thr-,t more than offset the ravages of annual 
floods. After the unusually severe flood of 1884, a com- 
prehensive levee system was constructed. However, in 1898 and 
1913 the Ohio surged over tae levees, and in 1932 they were 
raised five feet above the 1913 high-water nark. Shavmeetovm, 
hov/ever, had not envisioned a flood of the magnitude of that of 
January, 1937, r/hich filled the cup-like townsite, and rose six 
feet above the protecting walls. Inhabitants were evacu'ted by 
a river packet and several motor-boats shortly before the water 
began to pour into the streets. 

The receding flood rr.arked the end of the city's struggle 
to remain on the water front, a position no longer of sufficient 
advantage to warrant risk of future inundations. With the aid 
of the state, the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, and the 
W.P.A. , plans were to move Shavmcetown to the hills about 
four miles west of the river. The removal, it is estimated, 
will take two years. Some of the city's landmarks will be 
maintained in the State Park, which will be established accord- 

Page Twelve 

Pioneer Days in Illi 

ing to present pl.?.ns, on the old site. 

Examples of communities moving for better commercial pos- 
sibilities are Johnson City, about 50 miles west of Shawnee- 
town, and Utica, near Starved Rock State Park. 

Years ago, about a mile east of the proposed route of the 
Chicago, Paducah and Memphis railroad, now the Chicago & East- 
ern Illinois, was a town called Lake Creek, Its citizens de- 
sired the railroad line to jass through their community, but 
were persuaded that moving the town was easier than diverting 
the course of the railroad. For se'veral months the dwellings 
and stores of the town VYere on rollers, moving from the old 
site to the new and doing business as usiial. The community 
was renamed Johnston City, after Ben, F. and P, M. Johnston, 
brothers, who built the rr.ilroad through the region. 

The original site of Utica, also known as North Utica, 
where once stood the Indian village •^t which M'.rquette estab- 
lished the first Indir.n mission in Illinois, was on the north 
bank of the Illinois River about a mile south of the present The community, which depended on the river trade for 
its prosperity, hoped to secure the vi/estern terminus of the 
proposed Illinois-Michigan Canal, After the terminus was fi- 
nally located at Peru, rnd the canal built north of Utica, the 
village declined. In 1852, North Utica was established on the 
canal, and ihe old village abandoned. 

Page Thirt 

Pioneer Days in Illinois 


Thirty- six. pairs of snow-vvhite horses drew an enormous 
farn v/agon in .•^. spcctaculr>r held during the Republican 
cfunpaign rally in the autunn of 1864 r.t Clinton, Illinoisi On 
one of the horses of each group rode a boy dressed in Union 
colors. Each pair of animnls symbolized the n-itiona.l unity for 
which the Civil War v/.-.s still beinjC fou.sht. 


A neal-tine custom, believed to have its origin in Erench- 
Cpjiadian homes, is re^-ulr.rly observed in several Illinois com- 
mionities. The family stpjids at the table \7hile the father 
blesses the food. After all have been ser-.ted, he cuts the bread 
and distributes it. In so doing, it is said, he symbolizes his 
patriarchal authority over the household. This ancient cxiston 
is reported r.s being observed ir. some homes of Iruin, Chebanse, 
St. Anne, Bradley, Bourbonnais, MoDonce, St. George, and Man- 


The v/ater supply of Taylorville, Christian County, Illi- 
nois, vfhich is noted for its purity, is pumped from a natural 
underground laJce that has coal deposits for its base. 

Page Fourteen 

Pioneer Days in Illino 


Illinois gave the Ferris 'wheel to the world, A native son 
of Galesbur^ invented the wheel and directed its construction. 
It is still remembered by thousands of persons as a main at- 
traction at the y.'orld's Columbian Exposition at Chicago in 1893. 
GeoTf-je Washington Gale Ferris was a member of two pioneer fami- 
lies of Galesburg, descendants of which now reside in th?,t citj? 

Notwithstanding the opinion of engineers who believed the 
wheel could not be operated even if it were built, Ferris found 
backers for his enterprise* The encouragement given by offi- 
cials of steel companies who believed in the feasibility of the 
wheel was an important factor in carrying out the plans. It is 
said that officials of the Fair were amazed both when the v/heel 
did operate, and when it returned a profit. 

According to accounts, the total cost of the wheel was 
$300,000, of which $25,000 was spent on planning and $12,000 
on the wooden false work. The foundation, 40 feet deep, was 
laid in the winter raonths under serious handicaps. Because of 
the size of the job and the necessary haste, several stetl 
plants divided the iron work. The pieces wore so carefully 
chocked for uniformity that they seemed to be the products of 
but one company. The giant axle v/eighed 70 tons. 

The wheel, 270 feet in diameter, consisted of two huge 
rima with supporting spokes. Between these were suspended 35 
cars, with seats for 40 persons in each one. As the wheel re- 
volved, the cars reached a height of 258 fuot, giving the pass- 
engers a fine view of the Exposition grounds, and a thrill to 
talk about when they returned to their homes. 

Page Fifteen 



Pioneer Days in Illino 


The remarkably rapid growth of Illinois during the second 
quarter of tho nineteenth century is reflected in the records of 
transportation on the Illinois River, Comraercir.lly important 
bocts, for cxr'jnplo, o.rrived ■'■•nd departed only occasionally in 
1828 from the port of Havana. However, in 1836, the number 
leaped to 450. Some of the packets rre described as being \;ell 
constructed and rather expensive. 


Early settlers in Illinois generally avoided the open grass 
land of the prairies under the isaprcssion that the prairie was 
unhealthful. This seems to have been one of several fsxitors 
that confined most of the first settlements to the wooded areas, 
adjacent to stre;ims. The timber provided logs for the cabins 
£Uid rails for fences. It -./as rlso the source of fuel for the 
fire places, and of the garae vmich was the most important item 
to be cooked there. The leni" mould of clearings in the timber 
was much easier to cultivate than the tough sod of the prairie. 
By 1840, however, the open land was no longer avoided. 


Travelers in Illinois v;ho use the word "town" to refer to 
almost any commuiiity not cle.arly large enough to be a city, are 
usua.lly wrong. The state has only twenty-nine towns, officially. 
In addition to these, it has 836 villages and <^67 cities. 

Page Sixteen 

Pioneer Days in Illinoi 


"Ring Ridin'," at one time a popular contest during el^abo- 
rate annual picnics held near Garrett, Douglas County, vigor- 
ously tested the horsemanship .-.nd nerves of entrants. Broken 
■faones sometimes resulted, "nd r.fter a particularly stormy con- 
test in 1891, the game wps discontinued. 

As described by an old residr.nt, "Ring Ridin'" consisted 
of placing r small spear t'riroi:i^h a metal-like disk about ten 
inches in circvunf erencc. The disk, ^/Jiich w^s suspended from 
a string raid pulley attached to a pole far enough from the 
ground so that a rider on a galloping horse could pass uiider it, 
was ro.isod or lowered nt the vdll of some one standing nearby. 
The most skillful contestant -.vas av/arded the captaincy of the 
ring g.-^jne for the follovring yerr. 


Pana, Illinois, is frequently called "The City of Roses," 
for each year about 12,000,000 roses are grown there. The com- 
mercial production of them dates from 1920, v/hen the first 
greenhouse was established. At present over 100 greenhouses 
with 2,000,000 square feet of glass are used for this colorful 
and fragrant crop. 

Pago Scvent 

Pioneer Days in Illinois 


Back in the "gay nineties" most Illinois youths wished to 
own a bicycle, and many of them aspired to wear the gold bar a- 
warded to "century men" by the League of American Wheelmen, A 
rider qualified as a "century man" if he covered 100 miles in 
thirteen hours with the addition of two one-half hour lunch 
periods. The average rate of speed was consequently better 
than seven miles per hour. 

After the Capital City Cycling Club of Springfield, common- 
ly knovfn as the CC.C.C, was organized in 1886, members v/ho 
wanted to become "ctntury men" would meet at 6 a.ra, in Lincoln 
Square. Some '--ould set out for Petersburg, some for Beardstown, 
and others for Decatur, as principal points on the routes. As 
each one arrived at his destination, ho would be congratulated 
by the mayor, 'vho would sign his credentials. 

With good luck, a rider could complete the trip in ten 
hours, but persons riding "high wheelers" rarely \rcre able to 
accomplish the feat because of poor roads. 


Wages of $9.00 per month, with lodging but not board, for 
farm l,'-bor, ni\d day wages of twenty-five to forty cents for 
planting corn v^ere a part of the records found in an account 
book of a fr.rmcr of Lima Tovmship, Adams County, 

Page Eighteen 

Pioneer Days in Illino 


Within the limits of East St. Louis, a section of land 
crossed by the Eads Bridge approach was once an island tliat 
changed the course of the mighty Mississippi River. It is now 
the site of warehouses and railroad terminals. 

The island first appeared in the river as a small sand bar 
early in the nineteenth century. Seasonal flood deposits caus- 
ed it rapidly to become a small island which diverted the chaji- 
nel of the Mississippi River from the Missouri to the Illinois 
side to such a degree that by 1830 the harbor of St. Louis was 
dangerously shallow, St, Louis, sensing the threat to its 
river commerce, appealed to Congress, v/hich in 1836 appropria- 
ted f\.mds for the construction of dikes to return the river 
channel to the Missouri shore. 

Robert E, Lee, later commander of the Confederate Army, 
was engineer of the project. At his direction two dikes v/ero 
extended from the north and south tips of the island in 1838. 
They caused the hrirbor at St, Louis to deepen and the channel 
on the Illinois side of the island to become ten feet shallow- 
er. Eventually, accretion joined the island, about a mile 
long r.nd 500 ynrds v/ide, to the mainland. 


The old Slackwatcr covered bridge in Peoria County, marks 
the site of the once prosperous village of Slackwater, v/hich no 
doubt hoped, rs did most Illinois villages in the fifties, to 
become a great mid-western metropolis. When a railroad came 
through Ducaii, across the county line to the north, Slackwater 
was soon added to the list of "ghost toYms," 

Page Nineteen 

Pioneer Days in Illinois 


Roads that rise with amazing abruptness lure tourists ar- 
cross the high and picturesque hills of Williamsburg Ridge in 
Shelby County, A great gravel pit near Cold Springs supplies 
most of tiie surfacing needed to keep hi^ihways open to autmo- 
bile traffic under all ordinary weather conditions. This re- 
gion, sometimes called "the foothills of the Illinois Ozarks," 
embraces 12 square miles of peaks, woods, strong springs, and 
fine farms* 

Page Twenty 

Pioneer Dciys in Illinois 


Two Dutch windmills, their usefulness at an end, rer.iain 
as picturesque landmarks in Du Page County. The Heideni?.n Mill, 
a half mile north of U.S. Highway 20 on Mill Road, just north 
of Addison, v^s built in 1867 ?.nd continued in service until 
1929, Its octagonal tower, 30 feet wide at the base and 15 
foot at the top, supports a wheel '.dth a 75-foot sail spread 
that reaches to within twenty feet of the ground. 

An educational exhibit is a feature of tho Ahlers Mill, in 
Mount Emblem Masonic Cemetery, Ht, Prospect Road. Except the 
mill stones, all the v/orking pr.rts of this fine old structure, 
built in 1350, are of wood r.ud have been preserved almost v/ith- 
out exception in their original form. It is most impressive at 
night, when lights play on its great sails. 

Page Twcnt y-0 n e 

Pioneer Days in Illinois 


The Illinois schoolboy who resents having to show his 
teacher a written excuse from his pr.rents every time he is ab- 
sent from school m-^.y blane his great-great gr^iidfather rnd his 
pals, who, it s&ens, atpyed out of school so frequently in the 
1850' s thr.t they jeopardized the continu.aiice of the free public 
school srrstcu. 

For a qur'.rtcr of a century school authorities had to de- 
fend the free public school system against attacks from irate 
taxpayers. The objectors claimed th-.t school funds were un- 
necessary'' since the schools were not appreciated and more than 
one-fourth of the pupils attended classes less t!v.n throe 
months a year. In an effort to reduce the large nunbcr of ab- 
sences, authorities in the East developed the written excuse 
procedure, v^hich was first used in Illinois by Superintendent 
Wells of the Chicago public schools. In 1858 he made the fol- 
lowing ruling: 

"Every scholar in the granimar schools who shall be absent 
six half days in four consecutive weeks, and every scholar in 
the primary schools who shall be absent eight half days in fo\ir 
consecutive weeks, without an excuse from his parent or guard- 
ian, given either in person or by written note, satisfying the 
teacher that the absences were caused by his own sickness or by 
sickness in the family, shall forfeit his seat in school; and 
the teacher shall forthwith notify the parent and tiie Superin- 
tendent th't the pupil is suspended." 

The annual school report of 1859 sho-ved th^t the imling 
had reduced absences one iialf 'Jid that the average suspension 
was for only one day. However, some parents considered the 
rule unreasonable. 

T w e n t y-T w o 

Pioneer Dnys in Illinois 


"Sucker State" ie perhaps the earliest of the several nlck- 
npjnes thrt have teen #^iven to Illiuois, Its origin may proba- 
bly be trrced to the migrating habits of southerners from Mis- 
souri, Kentucky, Indiana, Virginia, and the Carolinas, who in 
the 1820' s left their homes each year to prospect for lead rain- 
ing claims in the vicinity of Galena. 

Some of these southerners crjne overland in covered v/a^ons 
drawn by mules or oxen, lived in wagon canps, :'Jid v;ent hone 
with the approach of cold weather. Others came up the river 
every spring in keelboats and returned downstream in the fall. 
These latter, particularly, v/ere given the name "Sixckor," bo- 
cause of the similarity of their yearly movements to those of 
the fish by that name, which migrated up and down the Missis- 
sippi seasonally. The frequency with which these claims proved 
worthless nay have led to the L-itor application of the name to 
people easily deceived. 

Other nicknames for Illinois h-avo obvious explanations, 
"Prairie State" is now commonly replacing "Sucker Stnte." Oc- 
casionally "Corn State" is heard, rJid less well known is "Gar- 
den of the West. " 


On Monday, October 24, 1849, the people of Glenn Ellyn ajid 
Du Page County saw their first locomotive, which was making its 
initial run out of Chicago. On this first trip the engine had 
to stop at the Desplaines River to get more water and also to 
load fire wood. 

Page T w e n t y-T h r e e 

Pioneer Days in Illinois 



Home-grown lettuce thr.t ripened Icte in December once gar- 
nished the Christmas table of one Illinois resident. On Decem- 
ber 25, 1899, a subscriber to the Cambridge C hronicle in Henry- 
County reported tliat he had gS'thered an abundance of fresh let- 
tuce from his garden for the occasion, rnd that pea vines were 
already a foot and a hrlf high. 



Menacing ice in the Ohio River brought a physiciaii to an 
Illinois pioneer community, :.nd he remained there for the rest 
of his life. 

Late in December of 1817, a flatboat, with lumber and a 
few passengers, found shelter in the harbor of Lusk Creek, off 
the Ohio River at Golcondat Among the persons aborrdv/as a 
young Scotch physician, Dr, Williafii Sim, educated at the Royal 
College of Surgeons in London -nd bound for Natchez, Mississippi, 
to establish a practice. 

When the flatboat resumed its way, Sim v/as not among the 
passengers. He had been persuaded to remain -^t least through 
the winter, and finally he decided to cast his lot with the set- 
tlers in thr t area. In time his calls took him long distances 
by horseback - as fr.r as Metropolis on the south, Shawneetown 
to the north, Princeton, Kentucky, east, and Jonesboro, to the 

Page Twent y-F our 

Pioneer Days in Illinois 



Illinois pr.airio lands yielded m-^.ny necessities to pio- 
neers, but a lone vine thrt provided filler for dji Alton resi- 
dent's ink-ivell is one of the unusual products on record. A 
magazine published in 1852 relates how the man found the 
strange vino growing in his gardens, and how he crushed the 
berries for ink. 

So satisfactory was the writing fluid thus produced that 
ho tried to find other vinos of a similar kind, but to no avail. 
According to the account, specimens of penrar>jaship, written v/ith 
the berry ink, retained its "bright bluish color. 



"Down v;ith S.-jita Glaus J" 

This, in effect, wp,s the cry raised in 1894 bjf several wo- 
men of one Illinois county. In that year a group of Cook Coun- 
ty mothers tried to banish St. Nicholas and other mythological 
heroes of childhood on the contention they v/ere a "gross of- 
fense" to the "scientifically ordered minds" of children. 

However, one member of the group pleaded that such folklore 
had educational value. Her views were at once publicly support- 
ed on various othe^r gro\inds, -jrid the proposal for disillusion- 
ment was defeatedf 

go T v/ c n t y-F i v e 



Pioneer Days in Illinoi 

Famous horse and *4ule m^iket 

More raulos nnd horses .?.re said to be mrrketcd in Galesburg, 
Illinois, than in ajiy other city of the nation. Besides sell- 
ing many animals for use in eastern end southern states, deal- 
ers there have shipped thousands of them to Europe, At sales 
during each \"veek of the year, buyers from almost every pr-rt of 
the country purchase over 17,000 head annually. 


The University of Illinois gave early promise of becoming 
the great institution that it now is. Evidence of this was 
found in ^-n item that appe^^red on Ur.y 20, 1892 in the Dai ly 
Globe , a Chicago newspaper of the time: "Twenty-five years 
have rolled caway since the University of Illinois first opened 
the doors to its first class, consisting of seventy-five stu- 
dents. Since then it has grown until now it Irxas nearly six 
hundred students." 

Today the University has over 13,000 persons in its class 
rooms and has enrolled more than 120,000 students and granted 
over 45,000 degrees since it was founded in 1867, According 
to present y;latis for expansion, the University will be able 
to accoranodate more than 30,000 students on the Urbana campus 
alone, a number almost equal to the combiiied 1930 census fig- 
ures for Urbana r.nd Champaign. 

Page Twcnt y-S i x 

Pioneer Days in Illi 


Seven years before Bardolph, McDonou^-h County, became an 
Illinois village in 1876, it was incorporated as a town. The 
change was r,iade, it is said, to give persons living within the 
school district, but outside the incorporated limits, wider re- 
presentation on the school board. Another unusual circumstance 
in the history of this community is the change of its name, 
which was originally Randolph, ^fhen it was discovered tliat a- 
nother Illinois town had selected the same name, substitutions 
for two consonants resulted in Bardolph, 


A mystery boat on the shore of a subterranean lake in 
Pearl Township of Pike Coxuity, Illinois, remains a source of 
speculation for visitors. It ws.s discovered in 1871 v/hen ex- 
cavations during the construction of a railroad brought to 
light the entrance to a scries of caverns, the lai^gest of which 
is about 100 feet high and 200 feet wide. Some passageways are 
so small that a person can pass through them only by crawling. 
In one of the rooms reached in this v/ay is a laJce of clocir v;a- 
tcr and tha abandoned boat. 

Page Twenty- Seven 

Pioneer Days in Illinois 


One of the forty wells still being used in Mackinaw is 
said to be the oldest well in Tazewell County and its water is 
highly valued locally for distinctive qualities that contribute 
to the brewing of exceptionally fine coffee and tea. Persons 
travel many blocks to secure it. 


During the "Klondike Da^'-s" of the pearl industry in Illi- 
nois between 1905-1910, a six-mile clam bed nt Pearl in Pike 
County gave employment to 600 persons and yielded a million dol- 
lars' worth of shells. They were sold to button and ornament 
manufacturers for $15 to $20 a ton. 


Wooden shoes, once commonly used in rnd near New Badon, 
Illinois, are still in demand, especially by the older residents 
of Dutch descent. This type of footwear can be seen prominently 
displayed for sale at Albers in Clinton County, 

Page Twent y-E i g h t 

Pioneer Days in Illinois 


Chicago, Wi scons inl 

Elgin, 'Jaukegan, Rockford, Galena, 7isconsinJ 

These addresses are iTrong, of course. However, they would 
protably be right today unleys Nathaniel Pope of Kaskaskia, ter- 
ritorial delegate to C.ngress, h;-d not succeeded in his argu- 
ments to amend the Enabling Act v/hereby Illinois could become a 

The time was 120 years ago — April 13, 1818 

Through his vision and efforts, the northern boundary line 
of Illinois v;as placed, not at 41'30', as the bill orginally 
provided, but, by amendment, at 42*30', or about 61 miles north 
of the southern shore line of LrJce Michigan, 

As a result of the change, Illinois gained approximp.tely 
8,500 square miles of land, or about one-seventh of its present 
area, which includes the nation's second largest city, a popu- 
lation of more than 4, 600,000, hundreds of millions in wealth, 
a,nd important commercial ports. 

Pope, a Kentuckian bj- birth, died in 1850 after achieving 
a distinguished reputation as a judge of the United States Dis- 
trict Court, and Pope County v;as n-'jnod in his honor. His neph- 
ew, Drjiicl Pope Cook of Kask;iskia, rJso a Kentuckian, lived 
only to the age of 32, but so crov/ded his brief career with 
significant work that Cook County perpetuates his name. 

Page T v/ c n t y-N i n c 

Pioneer Days in Illinois 


Henry County, established in 1825 r.nd ro-orgr>,nized in 1836- 
37, when its present boundaries were fixed, was l^.rgely settled 
b5'' colonies or^' nized in the East. V/cathersf icld, now p. pr.rt 
of the city of Kewanee, was founded by the Connecticut Associa- 
tion, a stock corap.'^.ny. The first settler -?.rrivcd in 1836, and 
three yop.ra later the colony numbered 100, 

Ep.rly in the 1830' s, about 30,000 acres were occupied by 
colonists from the East v/ho settled Andover« Morristown, the 
first county seat and now extinct, v/as part of 20,000 acres of 
land purchased by a New York Colony west of the present village 
of Cojnb ridge. 

In 1846, Erik Jansson ;\nd 400 of his followers, who had 

separated from the Swedish official church, established Bishop 
Hill. In 1851 the population nvunbered 1,100. Dissension and 
the national financial crisis of 1857 ended the colony in 1861, 
Property valued at over a hp,lf million dollars was divided a- 
raong 415 shareholders, who scattered north '>nd west over the 
Mississippi Valley. The village of Bishop Hill today numbers 
about 200 persons. 


Three to four train loads of strawberries leave Marion 
County daily during the season. Two-mi llion-dollar peach crops 
have been grown there. In aai average year, 330,000 trees in 
Centralia Tovrnship alone yield 750,000 bushels of peaches, 
Lp.rge quantities of apples .and pears, as v/ell as potatoes, 
beans, tomatoes, and turnips contribute to the crop resources 
of the county. 

Page Thirty 

Pioneer Days in Illinois 


Archives of the Downer's Grove Public Library preserve an 
interesting printed school program relating to the early career 
of the late James H. Breasted, a distinguished Illinois scholar, 
who at the time of his death in 1935 was director of the Orien- 
tal Institute and Professor Emeritus of Egyptology and Oriental 
History at the University of Chicago. 

The program shows that among those taking part in the grad- 
uation exercises of the Downer's G-rove Graded School in 1879 was 
the youthful Breasted, then fourteen years old and later a world 
famous authority on King "Tut" and the peoples along the Nile. 
He recited "The Soldier's Reprieve." 


When settlers came to Illinois in the 1820 's, their food 
supply was soon more varied and abundant than pioneer conditions 
would seem to afford. Wild turkeys and deer were numerous on 
the prairies. Lakes and streams provided many kinds of fish, 
"Bee Trees" yielded "tubs" of honey, ?Jid camps for ;fioking sugar 
and syjrup were set up in maple groves. Vegetables and small 
fruits added considerably to the variety of fresh foods. Corn, 
usually the first principal cultivated crop, showed up at meal 
times as bread, or "Johnny cake," mush, and hominy. 

Page Thirt y-One 

Pioneer Days in Illinois 


An interesting story is told about the generosity of Pier- 
re Menard, first Lieutenant-Governor of Illinois, during an a- 
cute salt shortage in the region around Kaskaskia. He owned 
the only available supply, and some of his distressed neighbors 
asked him for a portion of the salt, Menard, without giving a 
definite reply, told his callers to meet him at his store on an 
appointed da;/'. 

VThen the day arrived, Menard went among the men, asking 
each one of them: "You have money?" Some said they liad. 
Others promised to pay as soon as they killed their hogs, Men- 
ard instructed all of them to divide into two groups — those 
v;ho had money on one side of the room, those who had none on 
the other. Naturally, the ones who had cash to pay for t'le 
salt fully expected to get it, 

Menard surprised them. With typical brusqueness, he said: 
"You men v/ho have money can go to St. Louis for your salt. 
These poor men v/ho hnve no money shall liave my salt." 


W?j3ac is the only Illinois city that is situated in three 
counties — Washington, Marion, Clinton, Its name is coined 
from initial letters in tiie county names. At the election held 
July 5, 1913 on the question of incorporation, the Irto Mrs, 0, 
W, Coleman is believed to have marked t.he first ballot cast by 
a woman in Illinois, 

Page Thirt y-T w o 

Pioneer Days in 111 


Origins of numerous place nr-nes in Illinois liave been sub- 
jects of considerable study by students of the state's history. 
Blooming Grove in Hancock County was naraed, not from a grove 
nor from a profusion of blooms, but from a minister, a church, 
and an imknovm quantity of nails, When in the early days of the 
community a few settlers decided to build a house of worship, 
the Rev, John 3ailey offered to provide the nails required for 
the structure .and asked only that he .aight name the place. His 
offer was accepted, and he named the settlement Blooming Grove 
in honor of his old home in Kentucky, 

Chile in Haiicock County got its nrxio, not from any desire 
to do honor to the republic of Chile, but from the \inrealized 
sunbition of Stephen Owen, Sr. , .and his six sons to settle in 
South America, The Owen family got no further than this part 
of the state, where they settled in 1831, and the village that 
grew up there, as well ?.s the township of which it is pr-rt, 
came to be known as Chile, 

Pigeon Grove is the name of a to^Tnship on Pigeon Creek in 
Iroquois County. At one time, it was merely a grazing district 
with a grove of shade trees, the refuge and roosting place for 
flocks of nild pigeons. Sight-seers came from miles around to 
watch the birds, which settled upon the trees in such incredi- 
ble numbers that branches broke under the weight. All this was 
previous to 1855, v/hen a pioneer purchased 1200 acres, laid out 
a farm, and erected buildings there. Stories are still told of 
the lack of sportsmanship on the part of hunters who made a 
practice of coming to the grovo after nightfall, clubbing the 
helpless birds from their roosts, and driving away with wagon- 
loads of killed -nd crippled pigeons. 

Page Thirt y-T h r e e 

Pioneer Days in Illinois 


Belleville, St. Clair County, claims to liave the oldest 
public library in Illinois. It traces its history to July, 
1836, when the German Library Society was founded. For nany 
years Dr. Anton Schott, the first librarian and secretary of 
the organization, kept the collection of books in his ov/n home. 
Members contributed three dollars a year for its support. 

In 1883, the city covmcil established a public library on 
the second floor of the city hall and the G-crman Library Soci- 
ety transferred all of its books to those quarters. Later the 
library war, moved to the Jackson Street Engine House. After 
a gift of $45,000 by Andrew Carnegie, a new home was built and 
dedicated in 1916 as the "Carnegie Library." At present it 
has over 49,000 volumes. 


An early Illinois deed conveyed a strip of land four in- 
ches wide and 132 feet long upon payment of the sum of one dol- 
lar. According to accounts, a resident of Bement, Piatt Coun- 
ty, who in 1881 wished to build on a piece of property, found 
that he would be encroaching on the margin of the adjacent lot 
because of a survey said to have been inaccurately made years 
previously. As a result, the terms of transfer, it is be- 
lieved, were arranged, 


Sections of logs or stumps were used as washboards by 
pioneer women in Illinois, who often went to nearby streams to 
do the week's washing, In the early period of the state's his- 
tory. It was the custom of housev/ives living in Pin Oak Town- 
ship, Madison County, to gather on an appointed day at Silver 
Creek. Garments v/cre pounded until clean, and then placed up- 
on the grass or hung on limbs of trees to dry, A picnic Imich 
and swim completed the day. 

Page Thirt y-F our 

Pioaccr Days in Illinois 


Illinois, it seems, missed being a great salmon producing 
state "by about 300,000 fish. According to a newspaper account 
of 1876 authorities hrd imported 286,000 lively salmon from 
native haunts in California streams and turned them loose in 
headwaters of the Kankakee, It was hoped that the newcomers 
would soon not only that river but also the Illinois 
r.nd its tributaries. 

Prosont-dcy Isaalc Walton follov/crs say this is news and 
are wondering just how so :.iany fish left the state without be- 
ing seen. 


A key to p.n early Illinois courthouse remains as the only 
reminder of oji incident long since forgotten. It is on dis- 
play in p museum at Watseka, Iroquois County, 

According to accounts, a pioneer charged with counterfeit- 
ing, who was placed in the old wooden structure in 1861 to ar- 
wait trail, escaped into the corridor during the night of Feb- 
ruary 25, 1862, when through an oversight his cell was left 
unlocked. Not knowing that the courthouse door had been re- 
cently lined \7ith iron, he set fire to it, hoping to gain his 
freedom. The fire got out of control, however, trapped the 
prisoner, who lost his life, and burned the building complete- 

The key to the cell door, which was in the possession of 
the jailer at the time of the fire, was preserved. 

Page Thirt y-F i v 

Pioneer Days in Illinois 


The distinction of representing three different str.tes as 
United States Senator v/as achieved by Janes Shields, who suc- 
cessively served in this capacity for Illinois, Missouri, and 
Minnesota. Highlights in the career of this soldier aiid 
statesman are being brought to the attention of students of 
Illinois history. 

Shields settled in Kaskaskia in 1830, after duty as a 
lieutenant in the Seninole War, He taught school, studied law, 
and when only 24 years of ago, became county prosecutor. In 
1837 he was elected to the General Assembly, At the outbreak 
of the Mexican War, he was made "Brigadier General and after 
being reported killed in a pitched battle at Cerro Gordo, he 
returned to Illinois to become one of the state's heroes. He 
was elected a senator from Illinois in 1849. At the end of 
his tern, Shields moved to Minnesota Territory, and became 
one of the first two senators when the territory was admitted 
to statehood in 1858. 

After serving in the Civil War as a Brigadier General pnd 
winning recognition for bravery at Winchester and Port Re- 
public, he was promoted to the rank of liajor General by Lin- 
coln, At Carrolton, Missouri, his next hone, he continued to 
be active in public affairs. In 1878 he became a senator from 
that state. He died at Ottumwa, Iowa, June 2, 1879. 


Anti-horse thief associations were common in Illinois dur- 
ing pioneer days. Some of these vigilante groups developed in- 
to organizations with broader activities. The Macon County 
Farm Guard, v/hich traces its early history to one of these as- 
sociations, continues to hp-ve headquarters near Bearsdale, 
Macon County. 

Page Thirt y-S i x 

Pioneer Days in Illinois 


Ti'aveliiig 35 miles a dny in a carriage from the eastern 
seaboard to Illinois -.vas pji experience long remembered in 1822. 
The Q,uincy Historical Society possesses the rouiniscences of a 
pioneer woman, written for her children, describing carriage 
travel in those daj'^s. 

She says the vehicle resembled a tv/o-scated buggy, but 
points out that the word buggy was not in use when she made 
the trip. Each seat accommodated a trunk beneath it. Port- 
manteaus and bonnet boxes were somehow stored in front. Ad- 
ditional ti^nks rode in the rear. The passengers, with bam- 
boo lunch baskets, overnight bags, and other necessary equip- 
ment piled ground them, were jostled across a thouarjnd miles 
of hot, dusty prairie. 


In proof of a belief that Father Marquette once c^jne up 
the Kankfikce River a groat oak tree was for a long time point- 
ed out at Gougar's Grove, Knaikakee, The Jesuit explorer and 
missionary with several companions, according to a supposedly 
legcndar;/' account, journej'-ed along the river in 1673, v/ith 
the intention of converting the Potawatami Indians, and camp- 
ed for the night under a great oak tree. Historical research 
workers have noted a report tYir.t the tree, believed to bo be- 
tween 250 and 300 years old, stood until November 7, 1934, 
and was for i..any years a center of attraction for tourists. 

Page Thirt y-S even 

Pioneer Days in Illinois 


Mule races as a comic relief to the customary horse races 
were sonetimes fer.ture nttractions of early fairs in Illinois, 
and students of the state's history have foimd an arnusing ac- 
count of such a race held at the Dixon Fair in 1859. 

After describing the raucous voices of the "long-cared 
coursers" at the starting pole, the newspaper reporter of that 
time goes on to say: "At the word, off they start, some under 
full gallop, sorae on a trot, others on a walk, while one or two 
plant their feet solidly in advance, at '-.n angle of about 45 
degrees, or fall upon their laiees, much to the chagrin of tho 
rider. . . Tho gjTations nnd constant brayings of the more wil- 
ful of these /uiinals brought down the house, ?jid peal after 
peal of laughter shook the very clouds." 


First settlers in Clay County, Illinois, found themselves 
so far inland that they were handicapped in getting their pro- 
duce to a market. They solved the difficulty by building 
flatboats on the Little Wabash River, in the 1820 's and float- 
ing their bags of grain and barrels of pickled neat down the 
Ohio and the Mississippi to rn?rkets as far away as New Orleans, 


Fifty cents was the average price for a gallon of liquor 
during tho onrly 1850' s, according to ledger accounts of a 
storekeeper a few miles south of Paxton, in Ford County, The 
records are sxiong a number of early items displayed in the 
courthouse at Paxton. 

Page Thirt y-E i g h t 

Pioneer Days in Illinois 


Illinois pioneer v/omcn became expert a.t brJcing a variety 
of cornraeal cakes. Corn wns used by most families as the prin- 
cipal ingredient of broad until lojid was improved for the grow- 
ing of v?heat. Some recipes found appetizing during tho?e d.'^/s 
are listed in A Guide for Emigrants , compiled in 1831 by John 
Mason Pock, 

The "pone," according to this work, consisted of a large 
mass of meal T^rhich had been mixed either with milk or v/ater 
and baked in rsi oven. Small loaves of bread similarly pre- 
pared in a skillet were known as "dodgers." 

"The Ysjakees," wrote the author, "ma;' tell of their pics, 
and dough-nuts "nd crulls, ginger-cake -nd bread — whether 
made of rye or wheat — and all their other 'rations' but give 
me the genuine hoe-cake for a substantial diet. It bids de- 
fiance to the dyspepsy. 

"Hoe-c.-^kes, " said to have been originated by Virginians, 
were made by spreading a thin mixture of cornmeal over a hot 
iron plate, or on a boo.rd placed in front of the fire. 


Small game was so abundant in Illinois about the time of 
the Civil War that trainmen sometimes carried guns with them 
on their runs -nd combined business v.'ith pleasure by taking 
pot shots along the right of wry. Engineer of one train broke 
his leg when, after shooting a qiiail, he stopped the engine, 
and in running to retrieve the bird, stepped into a hole. 
Some years later a conductor on another railroad, it is said, 
shot a quail with a pistol, but the record does not shov/ thrt 
he bagged his game. 

Pago Thirt y-N i n o 

Pioneer Days in IllinoiB 


The Illinois pioneer family is immortalized in a great 
bronze monument at Elmwood, Peoria County. It is the work of 
the late Lorado Taft, renowned sculptor, whose parents were 
early settlers there. The statuary group called "The Pioneers" 
was dedicated to their memory, May 27, 1928. 

Ten feet tall, on a four-ton granite base, the heroic size 
figures depict the ruggcdness of early Illinois settlors who, 
according to the inscription, " bridged the s treams , subdued the 
soil, founded a state," A man, musket in hand, is represented 
embracing hia vyife and child; and a dog, alert for approaching 
danger, crouches at his feet. 


Women drivers drew criticism even back in the horso-and- 
buggy days of 1876, A writer in the Chicago Even i ng Journal 
of that time declares: "The way in v:hich a lady driver will 
ride over you would bo very amusing if it were not so danger- 
ous. You step to the side of the street '/here she docs not 
intend to go — but by dexterous motion of the lines, she 
succeeds in bringing the horse's head over your left shoulder. 
Just as he taJcos a mouthful of your oar, on the principle th't 
all flesh is grass, she screams, '^Th-o-ai ' in a voice that 
sends him careening down the street, PJid gives you en impres- 
sion of six different runaways; while she smiles sweetly, sits 
up straight and stretches her axms out over the dashboard, 
with ?in appearance of holding in that suggests ray amount of 
reserved muscle. You might envy the scene from the top of a 
shot- tower. 

Page Forty 

Pioneer Days in Illinois 


Fresh facts for fresh eggsJ You pay your e^gs and get 
your newspaper] On Egg Day, May 25th of each year, eggs are 
used as the mediiom of exchange in hxaying many commodities In 
Bunker Hill, Ivlacoupin County, Illinois. Even the local paper, 
the G-az e 1 1 e-He raid , has accepted eggs for the payment of sub- 
scriptions on that date. Egg Days as well as many other spe- 
cial and sometimes unusual occasions are observed each year by 
residents in the state. 

A Baby Show, held yearly in Carbondale, Jackson County, 
featui'es a parade in story book form for children under seven 
years of age. Dressed in gay costumes, they file past the 
judges' stand for prizes, some of which are av/arded to the 
youngest entrants r.nd to those tots best representing Holly- 
wood "starlets," 

Forreston, in Ogle County, holds a one-day festival in 
honor of "King Sauerkraut," although this town is not a sauer- 
kraut center. It seems that a resident who visited a "kraut" 
festival in Iowa liked the occasion so well that he imported 
the idea to his home town. At the festival held last year, 
1,200 pounds of franlcfurtcrs, 45 gallons of sauerkraut, 12,000 
buns, end 1,000 loaves of bread were consumed by several thou- 
sand persons. 


Silk top hats and faultlessly pressed morning coats were 
v7orn by some Illinois umpires during the early dr.ys of base- 
ball, fifty yerrs ago, according to recollections of nii early 
"fr-iji, " Large umbrellas for protection against sun were also 
included in their equipment. 

Page Fort y-0 n e 

Pioneer Days in Illinoi 


Operating cow brokerages was a profitable business In cen- 
tral and northern Illinois between 1840 nnd 1860. Newspaper 
files carry occasional stories concerning persons who contract- 
ed with residents of Chicago, Springfield, Peoria, and other 
cities and towns in the state, to furnish them with rood milk 

Brokers "jould scour the co\inties adjoining the area in 
which they worked for the required number and breed of cows. 
These cows would be collected at some central place and then 
driven by herds into the city for which the broker had con- 


An Illinois lad who at the age of five years is said to 
have invented clocks and padlocks th. t v/cre registered in the 
United States' patent office, seems to be worthy of a promi- 
nent place on the list of child v/onders, 

No\7spaper records tell of such a child prodigy at Mcta- 
mora during the time of the Civil VTar. While five-year-old 
compatriots were busily smashing their fathers' watches and 
the household clocks, this youngster finished making a clock 
that actually ticked. He then began to develop a new kind of 
padlock. Hov/ever, the adult v/orld was too much concerned r/ith 
the progress of military events to take notice of his accom- 

Not until the boy's tv/clth birthdr^^j' in 1870 was public 
attention focussed on him. That j^ear many of the Illinois 
newspapers carried stories concerning his remarkable abilities 
and some editorial vritcrs hailed him as a genius. Research 
workers are wondering why no further reference to the boy has 
been found and why in not one of the newspapers consulted v^as 
the lad's name given, or that of his parents. 

ago i' o r t y-T w o 

Pioneer Days in Illinois 


Bitter gr.les whipping across frozen Illinois prairies and 
a curtain of snow Ir.sting for r.lmost six bleak months — these 
are the high lig.its of the Great Snow of 1831. 

The "/inter of 1830-31 went down in history n.s perhaps the 
most severe ever known in the stp.te. Many counties, notably 
Macon, wore almost totally submerged by gigantic snowdrifts 
which rose to housetops. Pioneer families, stranded in their 
homes, suffered from acute food shortage. Birds rjid vrild ani- 
mals starved by thousands "nd their carcasses dotted the white- 
blanketed fields. 

Wolves, running easily over the snow crust, made short 
work of deer, which were trapped '.7hen their feet cut throiigh 
the surface. To help these animals, Capt. David L. Allen, of 
Decatur, according to ssi account, provided a refuge in his 
cattle-pen, where he fed aiid protected mojiy of them during the 
long winter siege. 

So unusual was the Great Snow that early settlers looked 
upon it as a n-'tural time m-irk for referring to both precedirig 
and succeeding events. 


No one, of course, would expect a pelican to be useful in 
the building trades, but an item in roi early Illinois news- 
paper suggests that the web-footed bird might be a brick-lay- 
er's helper. In the Quincy ^Thig , of July 10, 1854, there is a 
report of the shooting by Thora<as Crandol of a monster pelicm 
at the head of a nearby slough. The bird measured seven feet 
ten inches from tip to tip. "The pouch," the reporter wrote, 
"was so large th'" t Mr. Crpjidol, in order to test its capacity, 
put seven bricks in it." 

Page Fort y-T li r e c 

Pioneer Days in Illinoie 


Befiuty contests were known in Illinois as far back as 
1857. One such event held during a celebration near Ottawa, 
La Salle County, on July 4 of that year for Indian maidens and 
squaws was the featured event of the day. 

According to the story, an old Indlaji chief was given the 
task of acting as judge. After some deliberation, he his 
choice. Stopping before a womrai who i.7eighed over 400 pounds 
and stood six feet tall in her moccasins, the chief placed his 
hp.nd on her shoulder .-.nd proudly sa.ld, "Prettiest squavfj" She 
was his wife. 


Bicycle racing, especially popular r>jnong men of Illinois 
in the 1890' s also interested women. In an era when feminine 
competition in sports was rare, a race held in 1894 becomes 

On a Sunday in June, ten young v/omen cyclists raced from Au- 
rora to Elgin and return. The winner completed the round-trip 
of 42 miles in nine hours and twenty minutes. According to the 
Chicago Herald in its account of the race, "The best time pre- 
viously made over the course v/^s ten hours and forty minutes." 

Page Fort y-F our 

Pioneer Days in Illinois 


The grist mill was once the pivot of Illinois economic 
life. Famous mills, such as the Perkins and Alger mills in 
Tazewell County and McKingston's mill near Groveland, in Wood- 
ford County, have been the subjects of historical research. 

As late as 1860, groups of early settlers would periodi- 
cally fill their grist bags, tie then on the back of their sad- 
dles or on pack mules aid. proceed to the mill. The trip often 
occupied days and x?as one of the few occasions when the pio- 
neer ventured to his home overnight. 

Often horses that had carried their ov/ners to mill would 
"be requisitioned to help furnish power for the grinding. One 
settler wrote in his diary thr.t he had been forced to leave 
his horse at the mill three days before the miller could grind 
his corn. Such conditions were particularly true at the Mc- 
Kingston, Ohio, .and Panther Creek mills in 'Voodford County 
where there were no streams or rivers available for power. 
The McKingston mill is known to have served an area of more 
than fifty miles, and stories of farmers bringing produce from 
ninety miles away are not uncommon. Both the Perkins and Alger 
mills were water propelled since they vTcre located on the Mack- 
inaw River, Settlers could bring their wheat, rye, corn, oats, 
barley, and other grist to these mills by keel or flatboats. 


The unusually mild winter of 1875-76 brought very little 
ice on the Illinois, Mississippi, Sangamon, and other rivers, 
and ice companies were uiiable to stock their warehouses. In 
Cairo the shortage was felt as early as February, 1875, and 
distributors contracted for 1,000 cars to be shipped from 
Dubuque, Iowa. Other cities, including Chicp.go, were also 
forced to import ice. 

Page Fort y-F i 

Pioneer Days in Illinois 


Right of o\/ncrship to the greater portion of Illinois was 
asserted by an lowan in 1878. This claim was based upon a deed 
reported to have been made out to the petitioner's great-groat- 
grandfather and 19 others at Fort Gage, opposite t;ic village of 
Kaskaskia, by ton Indiaji chiefs in 1773. 

The Indirais received, it was said, about tv/o tons of gun- 
flints, cloth for breech-clouts, oxen, -.nd other items in pay- 
ment for the grant. Boundaries of the territory comprised one 
section lying above Cairo rnd embracing most of southern Illi- 
nois, and much of the uestern p?.rt of the state. 


Stories of the unearthing of fabulous treasures left 
by robber bands are among interesting items in the legendary 
lore in Illinois. Tales v/ere commonly recounted as late as 

One of these narratives printed in the Chicago Inter 
Ocean of April 22, 1895, tells of a farmer who lived near 
Fairbury, Livingston County. According to the story, one day 
as he followed his plow, he was astounded to see turned up 
dozens of silver watches, all of foreign make. The mechajiisms 
had fallen to pieces but the valuable silver cases were well 

Some elderly residents of nec-rby Pontiac, gave a degree 
of plausibility to the story by recollecting that a jewelry 
store at that place had been robbed thirty years before. The 
watches, they thought, could hnve been a part of the loot and 
cached in the field. 

Page Fort y-S i x 

Pioneer Days in Illinol 


Water lp,ncs play -n important p=rt in establishing natu- 
ral boundaries for many of the 102 Illinois counties. Chief 
ajDong these is the Mississippi River, which skirts the western 
borders of eighteen counties in its irregular southward course 
from Jo Daviess County in the northwest corner of the state to 
Alexander in the south. 

The Illinois River r^jiks next, forming p-rtial borders for 
sixteen counties, including many of those from Putnam and Bu- 
reau in the north central section of Illinois to Calhoun ajid 
Jersey in the southwest. In the southeast, the Ohio River de- 
scribes the outer borders for six counties — Gallatin, Hardin, 
Pope, Massac, Pulaski, and Alexander; likewise, the V'abash Riv- 
er, for Clark, Crawford, Lawrence, Wabash, '7hitc, and Gallatin. 
A contrasting feature is noted in the course of the Kaskaskia 
River, which traverses eleven counties from a central to south- 
west direction, but makes sections of border lines for only 
Monroe, St. Clair, Clinton, and Washington Counties. 

Some other rivers marking portions of county lines are the 
Rock River for Henry, Whiteside, Rock Island, Ogle, and Lee 
counties; the Sangamon River for Macon, Christian, Sangamon, 
Cass, Menard, and Ifeson; the Cache River is the southern tip 
of the state for Alexander, Pulaski, and Johnson; the Big Mud- 
dy River for small portions of Union and Jackson counties; the 
Little Muddy River for Perry and Franklin; Salt Creek for Men- 
ard and Mason; and Macoupin Creek for Greene and Jersey co\in- 

Many Illinois counties have rectangular or squared bound- 
aries, such as Boone, Stephenson, Iroquois, Macoupin, and Do 
Kalb counties. Markedly irregular in appearance, others pre- 
sent a stepped profile, notably Cook, McLean, 'Till, Christian, 
Scott, Moultrie, and Woodford counties. 

Page Fort y-S even 

Pioneer Days in Illinois 


Prize fighters of today are sometimes accused of jjutting 
on "diving exhibitions," and wrestlers are said to achieve real 
drama v/ith their grunt-and-groaning, but John Heanan and Jem 
Mace, two famous old-time pugilists, held the probably unique 
distinction of having attempted to appear before an Illinois 
audience as musical impresarios. 

Billed as a "Grand Musical Festival" perhaps to get around 
the Illinois str.te law of tlu=.t time forbidding boxing exhibi- 
tions, this Chicago event took place March 18, 1870, in the old 
Turner Hall, on Clark Street near Chicago Avenue. 

Newspapers of the day treated the affair without the re- 
spect that either a sport event or musical prcsentr.tion should 
command, and suggested thnt the audience, said to have been 
made up chiefly of "dubious men about town," were certainly not 
patrons of any art save th- t of loading with the left. 

At any rate, the orchestral music with which the 
opened vva.s received with very little appreciation, the most 
favorable criticism heard being th- t of one distressed patron 
v/ho wondered audibly "How cr.n that Dutchman blow that horn so 
cussed long.'" Verdi, it seems, was regarded chiefly as a nec- 
cessary evil, to be endured but not enjoyed. 

At the conclusion of the music, however, Heenan, in a 
dress suit, appeared to explain th^t the police did not regard 
a xylophone duet played on hujiin-n ribs as music. The disappoint>- 
ed audience rcr^lized th?t the anticipated boxing bout was de- 
finitely "called off." Mace then appeared, in v/hito tights, 
with face liberally powdered, -r.nd did a series of posturings, 
which Heenan explained as "Grecian statues." After thr.t, pre- 
sumably, everybody v;ent home. 

g e Fort y-E i g h t 

Pioneer Days in Illinois 


In 1852, an early Illinois resident was chosen to deliv- 
er important official documents to the American legations at 
Berlin paid Vienna. For this mission, President Fillmore, it 
is related, appointed Francis A. Arenz, after whom the village 
of Arenzville, in Cass County, was najned. 


Known to nature lovers both here and abroad. Bird Haven 
at Olney, Richland county, attracts thousands of visitors an- 
nually. Its 90-acre tract of land offers protection as a bird 
sanctun.ry and the advant;iges of an arboretum for the develop- 
ment .and preservation of a large variety of trees and shirubs. 
Many of these are n;?.tive to the State but others are uncommon 

species from abroad. 


Lotus flowers, rarely found except in Egypt and China, at- 
tract thousands of visitors annually to northeastern Illinois. 
There in the Fox River region of Lake covmty, quiet waters of 
Grass Lalce form deep green backgrounds for extensive areas of 
remarkably beautiful cream-colored blooms, six to ten inches 
in diameter. The flowers, 'vhioh are abundant under favorable 
conditions, ordinarily begin to appear early in August and re- 
main nearly four weeks. 

Page Fort y-N i n c 



Pioneer Days in Illinoi 


Unnoticed by many motorists, century-old fences still in- 
close more thrai a few Illinois fields .and farms. Research 
workers, have found records of such fences in Iroquois, Ed- 
wards, Peoria, Tazewell, <y.nd other Illinois Counties, 

Fences in pioneer dpys of Illinois were commonly con- 
structed -f trees, thorny bv\shes, sod, or rails. Picturesque 
osage orange tree hedges may still bo seen, A model farm op- 
erated at Onarga for some years by the fpxious detective, Allan 
Pinkerton, follov/ins the close of the Civil War, was surround- 
ed by an osage orange hedge within x^hich grew l-'rch trees sev- 
en rows deep. A v/hitc thorn hedge is said to inclose a farm 
in Edv?ards County, 

No record has yet been discovered of sod fences remaining 
in ^Xiy part of the state, althoutjh it is known that experiments 
in building these v;ere carried on in Peoria Coujity in 1839. 
They are said to hnve been usually unsatisfactory, as cattle 
enjoyed tossing the sod out of pln.ce with their horns. In this 
county examples of the zigzag rail type of fence may be seen. 

Roil fences were not common in areas where other suite.ble 
and less costly fence materials could be fo\ifld. Early settlers 
in Tazewell County, about 1837, had to be prepared to pay at 
least $1.35 for a hundred rails, nnd sometimes more as the 
length of haul increased. To fence a "forty" in those days 
cost around "200. 


Qjaest for "a hunter's paradise" led many early Illinois 
settlers to Franklin County. There skilled hunters fouxid woods 
and streams abounding with deer, raccoons, ninlc, otter, beaver, 
and other animals. Buffalo still roamed thu prairies. Tod.ay, 
rabbits, squirrels, raccoons and opossums are plentiful, but 
v/olves, foxes, and minlc have bcco;.ie rare. 

Page Fifty 

Pioneer D.iys in Illinoi 


Some onrly food prices prevailing in Illinois before the 
d.Tj's of rr.ilro^ds have been noted by research \vork:t:-rs. The 
following? quotations r.rc taken from price lists at Galosburg, 
in 1852: cft-gs, 10-12i cents por dozen; butter, 12 cents per 
poimd; chickens and turkeys, 12 cents per pound; beef, 4-4^" 
cents per pound; pork 8-9 cents per pound; and pot.atoes, 50 
cents per bushel. 


Plo'ving contests r.rc held annually in Illinois 
fnrraing coimnuuitics. It is said one such match took place in 
\7heatland To\7nship, Will County, as far back as 1877, Big 
Rock, Kane County, adopted thu custom in 1895, Contestants are 
judged for spoed and skill in turning' the soil into neat, even, 
open furrows. Hand and horse-drawn plows have rapidly i.iven 
v/ny to modern tractor-draTm gang plows, A radio-equipped trac- 
tor appeared for the first time in the TTheatl-nd match in 1935, 
Unless postponed by rain, these events usually occur -bout the 
fourth Saturday of September. 


A beverage popular with early Illinois settlers v7as known 
as "stew," The drink consisted of a mixture of 'vatcr, sugar, 
T/hiskey, a.llspice, and butter served steaming hot. When pio- 
neer schoolmasters followed the custom of cclebratinij the fi- 
nal day of the school term with pr rents of pupils, the oldest 
girl of the class v/as given the task of preparing the "stew," 
It is related tii'-t occasionally the instructors prrtook too 
freely of the potent beverage raid became hilariously merry, or 
"stewed," in the parlance of the day. 

Page Fift y-0 n e 


Pioneer Days in Illinois 


"It was the biggest thing between •hicago pjid the Missis- 

In these v/ords, an old settler described the Pre-enption 
House in Naperville, Du Page County, for many decades one of 
the widely knovn hostelries of the Middle 7est, but now closed. 
It was built in 1834 at the junction of two important stage 
routes, one between Chicago and Galer^a, and other leading into 

Members of Chicago's smart-set made this popular inn the 
scene of nany social events during its heydrny. 


Illinois Highway 37, popularly called the "Egyptipi\ Trail" 
because it leads from the north into the southern part of the 
state, tthich h' s lon^ been knovm as "Sgypt," is the most heav- 
ily traveled of the Illinois routes fron Effinghra to Cairo. 
Fertile farming com.iunities and rolling prairie-lands coi^prise 
nuch of the scenery along this traffic artery. Large quanti- 
ties of orcfe-ard fruits and strawberries are also grovvn in the 
areas traversed by it. 

Counties throu^^h which Illinois 37 passes in its south- 
ward course are Effinghau, Cla.y, Marion, Jefferson, Franklin, 
Williamson, Johnson, Pulaski, and Alexander. Some of the lar^ 
er tovms riid cities aloui; this famous highway are: Effinglvara, 
Salem, Ht. Vernon, Benton, West Frankfort, Johnston City, Ma- 
rion. ;.Io\ind City ?_nd Cairo. 

F i f t y-T w 

Pioneer Days in Illinois 

pioni:er dance calls 

Picturesque titles, such as "Dip the Oyster," " the 
Snbbit," and "Rip the Ring," still desi^'np.te types of square 
dances in Adams County, Square dances in the sncdlcr tovnis 
and villa.-,es of this area, as well as in other sections, are 
still popular, md types of dances and calls have chrjigod lit- 
tle since pioneer tines. 

Music for the dance is usually supplied b;,' a fiddler and 
a brjijo player, often with a guito.r pl.ayer to help out. Call- 
ers are as important as the music, ?nd are usiar.lly local peo- 
ple, r/ho may or may not be paid for their performrnce. 

The "half and half" dance is also quite popular, the dan- 
ces in the course of the evening being half square dances and 
half the nore i-iodern v/altzes, fox trots, -rnd others. Both 

young and old, hov/evcr, still meet to "dip that oyster 

no\7 the stev/ njnd pull that oyster ri^,ht on throu^^^" until 

early in the norning. 


"Infernal" is just one of the epithets once used by citi- 
zens of Rock Isl-'-Jid to describe their water vorks >7histle, ac- 
cording; to a newspaper account of a protest entered against 
the noise rjpJcer in Septoaber, 1872. They seem to have had 
just cause for a griev.ancc, since it is reporte-l that the v;his- 
tle w.-^s sounded five tines a day, ofton for prolonged periods, 
and could be heard by residents of a tov/n twenty-five miles a- 
way. No further record of the protest has been found. 

Page Fift y-T h r e o 

Pioneer Days In Illlnoi 


Culture of the lov/ly ;fom hns becone an enterprise of na- 
tional scope for one Illinois busineca house, Loc-tcd in Jo- 
lict, this conpniy h,?.s for nnjiy years ).mde a scientific study 
of cultivating ucal- worms, the standard diet of fish, reptiles, 
find birds in zoos, parks, \nC. private collections* 


Bath tubs were considered luxuries in ;.viny Illinois com- 
munities )nore than 50 years ago. For scne tine in Moline, pub- 
lic br<.th tubs were taxed $8 a year, those in hotels ~rA board- 
ing houses $4, and private ones $3 as a neans of obtaining v/a- 
ter-asses sncnts. 


Illinois Indiaii chiefs sonetines riore heavy fur hnts, giv- 
en them by early settlers, even during the warm months. It is 
said that at the conclusion of the Treaty of Prairie du Chien 
with the Potav/atonies, Chippewas, and Ottawas on July 29, 1829, 
fur hats ^nd ruffled calico shirts v/erc anont,- items of ncrcl\an- 
dise taken by Indians in exchange for Irnd. Donning those, the 
chiefs proudly strolled among their tribesmen under an August 

Page Tift yP our 

oncor Days in Illinois 


The English fnxiner v;ho vms considering emigrrvting to Ill- 
inois a century ago nust been puzzled by conflictin;;; re- 
ports of En^ilish travelers in thic re(;:;ion, Sonc anusin^ con- 
tradictions nry be noted in early letters. 

In Pictures of Illinois 100 Years Ago , a conpilation ed- 
ited by Milo Milton Q,uaife, the vast prairie was described 
as an agricultural Utopia offering a scenic beauty of excep- 
tional grfjidcur. V7illi,ai:i Cobbett, in A Year's Residence in 
U.S. of Anorica, a'-i'-cd to the glanorous accounts, rnd Morris 
Birkbcck, '.vho left a prosperous farn in England to buy 10,000 
acres in Illinois, sent such rapturous reports in Letters frog 
Illinois , that he succeeded in establishing a colony of over 
three hundred fai-iilies in Edv/ards County, Such statenents as 
the follo',7ing influenced the hegira{ 

"For about h-.lf the capital required for the nore culti- 
vation of the worn out soil in England, a man niy establish 
himself as a proprietor hero, vith every confort — a reason- 
able iMdc of living, -.nd with a certainty of establishing his 
children as v.'ell or better than hir.iself, I love this coun- 
try. ..,\7e are not called upon to refund a portion for rents, 
another for title, r. third for poor's rates, -.nd a fourth for 
taxes* " 

An indigu,^ait contenporary writer, C, H, Wilson, in The 
Wanderer i n America or Tru t h st H one, gave his opinion of 
Birkbeck as an unscrupulous literarj'- l?nd agent v/ho lured fel- 
low countrynen to a false land of pronise where they net with 
every conceivable hardship rnd disappointnent. He called him 
"an unblushing yea and nay ?.dventurer," r-nd his followers 
"lunatics. " 

Wilson's accusations were confirmed by later reports of 
William Cobbett which were in decided contrast to his former 

Page Fifty-Five 

ioneer Days in Illinoin 

accounts. He told of severe drouths and other adverse condi- 
tions, to all of which Birkbeck published a denial. 

The result of these controversies appears to have been 
the failure of the English settlement in Illinois as there are 
very few descendants of these people living today in the re- 
gion. Even the children of Birkbeck moved away after he died. 
This is to be regretted, as the colony was cultured and admir- 
able in many respects. 

Page Fift y-S i x 

Pioneer Days in Illinois 


Belioved to have been thu first to demonstrate the possi- 
bilities of Illinois as a livestock State, Jacob Strawn, known 
as the "Cattle King" of Morgan County in pioneer days, is said 
to have provided all the stock necessary to supply St, Louis 
with bei'f from 1835 to 1850. According to early accounts, on 
one occasion for nearly two weeks he stationed b-uycrs on all 
roads leading into St. Louis to purchase every steer, calf, or 
cow being driven into the city, in order to maintain his lead- 
ing position in the livestock market. 


Accounts of a professional prize fight held in 1358 on 
board a Mississippi River excursion boat, the Equinox , near 
Alton, Illinois, have come to the attention of historical re- 
search workers. 

At this early pugilistic encounter, said to have attract- 
ed more than 400 persons, ringside odds favored Charles Holmes 
of Ireland, who opposed Jack Cope of England, Reports show 
that the match was a "winner-take-all" affair, with $200 post- 
ed by each side. 

Before beginning to swing rights end lefts, the two men 
bowed politely to each other in the center of the ring. They 
then fought for 62 rounds, cmd wild cheers. Cope, it was de- 
clared, then fouled Holmes, to whom the referee awarded the 

The many v;omen on the boat, instead of watching t;ic prize 
fight, danced a cotillion. 

Page ?ift y-S even 

Pionoer Days in Illinoi 


Less th^.n 50 years have passed since immigrant cars were 
commonly seen at railroad stations in Illinois, They were gen- 
erally first-class passenger cars of older types, or box cars, 
partitioned and provided with stoves if whole families and 
household goods were being moved* 

That this kind of equipment ijroved to be profitable scorns 
likely because of agitation by steamboat interests to promote 
immigration by way of the Mississippi River route as early as 
1875, In March of the following year, states served by that 
waterway discussed the matter in convention, Illinois V7as es- 
pecially interested because of its need for laborers and in- 
creased revenue for the Illinois-Michigan Canal. 

It is doubtful, however, if river steamers offered serious 
competition in this respect to railroads, at least so far as 
Illinois vas concerned, since the remarkably l-rgc number of 
immigrants who entered the state between 1870 and 1885 seems 
to have provided plenty of business for all. In one year, ar- 
bout three-fourths of real estate transfers in Madison County 
alone were made because of imjtiigrant purcha-scs. 

Before 1890, the immigrant car began to decline in im- 
portance, Iminigra,tion restrictions v/ere being extended. In 
1892, for example, Illinois required health certificates from 
iraj-nigrants, and railroads in a way became responsible for the 
health of their p.asBcngers, since any one who did not have a 
certificate, was hold in quarantine at the expense of the road. 

By 1895, immigrant cars were becoi.iing "white elepk-^nts. " 
On March 20 of th'-t year, an item in the Chicago Times-Herald 
showed that they had definitely reached the period when they 
had lost their importance: "Immigration iias fallen off to 
such "■n extent that mraiy of the roads c're selling their immi- 
grant cars or converting them into another kind. In two years 
immigration h.'-s fallen off about 60 per cent, ai^d it is believ- 
ed it will never again assume its old importance." 

Page Fifty-Eight 

Pioneer Days in Illinois 


That portion of Illinois now called La Sallo County was 
included in a number of geperately n'mcd areas before it was 
finp.lly org.?.nized uiider its present name in 1831. The l-nd 
bcc-^jae a pr.rt of the follo'-'ing counties ".t different times: 
Knox in 1790, Randolph in 1801, Madison in 1812, Edv/ards in 
1815, Cra'-ford in 1816, and Clark in 1819. When Clark County 
was dividod in 1821 a part of the present La Salle County lay 
in Pike County and a part in Fayette, 


Located a few miles northeast of Rushvillo in Schuyler 
County is the hamlet of Ray, "-hich until recent j^e.-^rs v;as a 
properous community maintained solely by the manufacture of 
brick r^nd tile. With tnc use of shale brick, the industry de- 
clined. Hundreds were throvn out of \;oi'k and most of the popu- 
lation had to seek cnplojinent elscvhcre. The few remaining in- 
habitants, about 50 in number, are cnejaged principally in 
snall-scalo fanning. 


Twenty-one dcys and nit^hts v/ere required by -^n early Illi- 
nois settler in malcing a trip from Champaign to Chicago in 
18S4. It is said no bridges existed along his route during 
those days, and rivers had to be forded. A similar journey be- 
tween these two points, 134 r.iilcs api'.rt, today takes less than 
four hours by automobile. 

Page Fift y-N i n e 

Pioneer Di ys In Illinois 


A -ffidely knovm stopxjing place for passengers of stngo 
co-xches in Illinois during cr>.rly dr^jye, the stone built Lisbon 
House, now a fp.rn hont, n-y still be seen on the old Ottawa 
Pike near Lisbon, Kondall County, This historic inn, n note- 
worthy exanplo of early iiinericin design, u-xintained twelve 
guest roons and a bar room thrt used all the basement space 
except a section for baking ovens, A barn that could accon- 
nodate 100 horses, a sr.iithy, nnd quarters for hostlers, are no 
longer standing. 


Tv/o trees, one an eighty-foot giant, the other a snail 
seedling, are reported to be the sole survivors in La.v/rence 
County of the fine bald cypress groves once comonly to bo seen 
in southern Illinois, 

The specimens grow in a boggy creek bottom in the northr- 
wost section of the County, it is reported. Roots of the pa- 
rent tree, 'vhich has a circumference of twelve feet, have bo- 
cone enneshed over an extensive area of the surrounding land. 
The scedlii^j has attained a height of 20 feet. 

Another species of tree, the large tooth aspen, once like- 
wise conraonly found in this part of the state, is now almost 
extinct in Lawrence County, Only a few on a rise south of In- 
dian Creek are reported to exist, Willows, especially the 
peach loaf variety, also seem to be dj'ing out, Lawrence still 
has nany beech trees but Richland, which -djoins it, is said 
to have but one in its entire pjea. 

Pago Sixty 

Pioneer Days in Illin 

1 s 


In 1903, an act passed by the Illinois state legislature 
required automobiles to come to a full stop upon nearing any 
horse-drawn vehicle. This law was enacted as a safeguard a- 
gamst accidents known to have occurred when horses became 
frightened by the approach of motor cars. The speed of auto- 
mobiles was limited to 15 miles per hour in those days. 


"Finner najnes the town," may have been the opening remark 

of a prairie poker game, said to have been played in Illinois 

some years a,iO to determine v/ho would have the honor of naming 
Mattoora, in Coles County, 

The story goes that at the.' time a railroad was being 
built through this part of Illinois, in 1850-52, three men met 
to discuss plans for fouiiding a town that would be shipping 
point for the rich agricultural area. One of thorn, it is re- 
lated, was 7/illiam Mattoon, supervisor of construction. They 
agreed to play a hand of poker to determine who would the 
honor of naming the community. 

Mattoon, it is said, rvon the game end then announced: 
"This thriving and beautiful inetropolis of Coles County shall 
bo called Mattoon." 

Pago Sixt y-0 n e 

Pioneer Days in Illinoi 


Contrary to comnon belief, the East and the South by no 
means have a "corner" on the country's supply of those old 
landmarks — covered bridges. Those stiructures are to be found 
spanning a number of Illinois streams. Among those frequently 
commented upon by tourists are the Jack's Mill bridge near 0- 
qvu.v,7ka in Henderson County; a bridge at the site of the "ghost 
toivn" of Conkeytown in Vermilion County, and one over the Spoon 
Rivor in Stark Co\inty» 


Overlooking the Saline River Valley, the "Old Stone Face," 
near Somerset in Saline County, attracts many visitors to south- 
ern Illinois ajinually. This unusual stone formation on a ridge 
of the Illinois Ozarks is believed to have been first noted in 
1915, Close by is another point of interest. Still House Hol- 
low, which, according to local tradition, was the site of a 
liquor still years ago. 


Among the popular summer resort areas in Illinois is the 
Chain-o-Lakes region in McHenry and Lake counties, where more 
than fifty lakes with swimming, fishing^ ,-.nd other recreational 
features lure thousands of visitors each yeor. Antioch, Fox 
Lake, r>iid Lake Villa form the hub of this widely-known ploy- 

Page S i X t y-T w o 

Pioneer Days in Illinois 


Plank roads played .in importpjit part in the story of 
transportation, during the early days of the development of 
Illinois. In 1849, a company organized in Will County built a 
wooden highway from Oswe3;o, in Kendall County, to the Indiana 
State Line by way of Joliet. Stock foxnid ready buyers. At 
this time the Illinois legislature passed an Act stating, in 

"Every plank road made by virtue of this Act shall 
be so constructed as to inako a secure and permanent road, the 
track of which shall be made of plank, and in such a manner 
as to permit wagons and other vehicles conveniently ?-nd easily 
to pass on and off where such roads arc intersected by other 
roads. « ," 

Msjiy other companies were formed. Advertisements pictured 
plank roads as the "farmer's road" and the "poor man's road." 
In 1851, it is said, 600 miles of such travel lanes had been 
built in Illinois, One v/idely knovm highway, called South- 
western Plank Road, ran from Chicago to Elgin. According to 
early accounts, tolls collected on this road during the first 
six months paid expenses and dividends amounting to 42 per 
cent of the money originally invested. 


Old Glory had a namosake in Illinois at least as far back 
as 1870. The census of that year lists a boy living at Rock- 
ford, whose Chi'istian name was "Star Spangled Banner," He and 
his prtriotic parents lived in Rockford's Third ?/r..rd. 

Page Sixt y-T h r e e 

Pioneer Days in Illinois 


Mailing a letter in Illinois a century ago cost consider- 
ably more than it does today. In 1838, according to one ac- 
count, the Frink and TTallace Sta^e Line, with a route from Pe- 
oria through Kickapoo, Brimfield, French Grove, and points 
westward, charged 25 cents postage for letters mailed over 300 
miles, and atout 18 cents for distances under this mileage. 
Pees were collected after the letters had been delivered. 


In the tarly days, the geographical center of an Illinois 
county was sometimes found without the use of precise survey- 
ing instruments. It is said that at the time the center of 
Henry County, named for the famous Americaji statesman, Patrick 
Henry, was first determined for the purpose of establishing 
the county soat there, one of its citizens followed his compass 
and counted the footsteps of his horse as he rode. Arriving 
thus at the point that he considered to bo the true center of 
the county, he selected it for the place of local government 
and nrjned it Richmond. However, a subsequent survey shewed 
that he missed the exact center by a mile too far west and a 
short dist-ince too fr>r north, Later, the county seat was 
moved to Morristown -Mid. again to Cambridge, 

Pago Sixt y-F our 

Pioneer Days in Illinois 


Legend regarding Decatur's most famous feline, the Court 
House Cat, hris attracted the attention of research workers in 
folklore. She arrived in 1903 ''.t the Macon County Court House, 
a forlorn -nd scrawny kitty. However, as time went on, she be- 
cnjne accustomed to the legal atmosphere, made now friends, and 
grew sleek and fat on regular meals. 

According to accounts, her absence on the marble stairs, 
just outside the court room was regarded as an omen of ill for- 
tune to a defendpjit, and in m.any cases, it is reported, the 
prediction was borne out. 

The Court House Cr.t frequently took time off to roar fam- 
ilies, the members of which apparently were all good mousers 
a,nd in great demand. It is said that after the four-year pe- 
riod of the cat's residence, the court house was completely 
free of mice. 


A citizen of Victoria, Knox County, believed that he had 
solved a difficult community problem in 1877, He proposed to 
employ on farms throughout the state all women in the care of 
of social agencies. Plenty of farmers, he said, would be will- 
ing to pay from $2 to $3 per week for their help with the 
housework, the family baking, washing, rnd other farm t'tsks. 
He felt it his duty to add, however, that the girl should be 
allowed time enou^-h to do her ovm mending and l-rundry work. 

Page S i X t y-F i 

Pioneer Days in Illinois 


In 1821, when sectional boundary lines were being establish- 
ed between Illinois and Indiana, from the Wabash River to Lako 
Michigan, a stone mrirker was placed on the north bank of the 
river, near Wabash Township, Clark County, at a cost of about 
$100. Inscribed on its west face v/as the word, "Illinois"; on 
uts east face, "Indiana"; and on the north, "159 miles and 46 
chains to Lnke Michigan," 

This Ir.ndraark soon became known throughout the environs 
as a popular meeting-place for the settlement of local dis- 
putes. According to traditions, it v/as customary in those days 
to charter a steamboat to transport fight fans to the famous 
boundary, where, if the authorities of one state threatened to 
stop the contest, both spectators and participants moved across 
the line into the other state. 

After a number of ye^rs, the stone l:^,ndmark sunk into the 
grovind out of view, r.ud was recovered in 1929 by the State of 
Illinois. A concrete base now supports the n'^rker. 


Marlon County in Illinois was so n.-jned as result of a bill 
introduced in the legislature Jsmiiary 24, 1823, by Zadoc Casey 
whose father had fought under General Francis Marion in the Re- 
volution. Its county seat, Salem, was named after Salem, In- 
diana, where Mark Tully, one of the donors of the land on which 
the court house was erected, had stopped enroute to the Illi- 
nois country. 

Page Sixt y-S i x 

Pioneer Days in IlllnoB 


So much confusion resulted from the similarity in names of 
two Illinois communites, Mounds Station, Brown County, and 
Mounds, Pulaski County, that residents of the first place 
clianged its name in 1908 to Tiraewell. The new name honored 
0. C, Timewell, a railroad chief clerk. 


When residents of Greenup in Cumberland County go shopping 
on a hot day, they can enjoy the shade of "Holland" porches, 
which extend over the sidewalk to the curb. This once common 
feature of village stores in Illinois is rapidly disappearing. 


Unique sonong memorials to honor early settlors in Illinois 
is the Edgar County Pioneer Monument, which consists of two 
complete millstones. It occupies a prominent position on the 
south lavTn of the courthouse at Paris. The two stones, donated 
by descendants of pioneor families, were in service as early as 

Page Sixt y-S even 

Pioneer Days In Illinois 


Illinois, it seems, is often thou^ght of as a state prin- 
cipally with wide expanses of almost level fr.rm Ir.nd, river 
shores, and city and town sites. This mistaken view is per- 
haps duo largely to its nickname, "Prairie State." However, 
persons \7ell acquainted with its topography know th::t it sel- 
dom presents a monotonous regularity. Widely separated sec- 
tions marked by precipitous cliffs and hills, occasionally ap- 
proach mountain size. 

Illinois ^7hich lies in the Prairie Plains region, h3,s an 
average elevation of about 575 feet. The highest point, 
Charles Mound, 1,241 feet above sea level, dominates the scene 
in Jo Daviess County less than a mile from the Wisconsin line. 
The lowest point, 268 feet above sea level, coincides with low 
water mark at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio riv- 
ers at Cairo — a variation of 973 feet in the state's topo- 

The Ozark Plateau, or "Illinois Ozarks," extends approxi- 
mately across the southern part of the state from Grand Tower, 
Jackson County on the Mississippi, to Gallatin County, border- 
ing the Ohio, and its highest point, Williams Hill, in Pope 
County, reaches 1,065 feet. 

Another important elevation begins at Grand Tower, paral- 
lels the Mississippi, and ends at the mouth of the Illinois Riv- 
er; still another stretches along the Wabash. In these areas 
many river bluffs rise to lofty heights. Starved Rock, near 
Ottawa in La Salle County, is 150 feet above the bed of the 
Illinois. Less abrupt slopes bordering watercourses enclose 
numerous valleys named after their respective rivers. 

Page Sixt y-E i g h t 

Pioneer Days in Illinoi 


Post Creek, a smnll tributarj' of Cache River traversing Coiuity, has coursed backward since 1912. In thrt year 
the Cache Drainage Commission, in order to clear the swamp 
lands of tl>e co\mty, dredged the creek and cut a channel throu^ 
the hills along the Ohio River. This work changed the current 
of the waters, and the creek instead of running into the Cache, 
now empties into the Ohio, 


The demand fqr certain cuts of pork was so small in Illi- 
nois during pioneer days that they were considered v/ithout sale 
value* According to one account, almost limitless quantities 
of spare-ribs, pigs feet, and pigs heads could be procured free 
for the family table^ 


Palestine, Illinois, had good reason to worry about its 
courthouse during the years th:'.t it was the county scat of 
Crawford County, The first courthouse, erected in Palestine in 
1820, was struck by li,-,htning three times during the next few 
years. The final bolt practically destroyed it» A second 
courthouse, completed in 1850, vjas gutted by fire the nijht be- 
fore it was to be taken over by the court. A third courthouse 
was completed in 1833, raid used until 1843, when the county 
seat was moved to Robinson. 

Page S i X t y-N i n o 

Pioneer Days in Illinois 


On the Araorican LCfjion groiinds in Peoria stands a camou- 
flaged, bullet-scarred tr^nk which saw service in several bat- 
tles in France, -linong them "the great tpjxk drive" and the sec- 
ond battle of the Sommc during the World War of 1914-1918, 
It is 20 feet long, 8 feet wide, 7 feet high, -^^nd weighs more 
tlirsi 32 tons. 

In service, this monster was heavily armed. Its equip- 
ment consisted of a onc-poiind cannon mounted ia trie nose and 
four machine guns to .gua.rd sides aiid roar. The guns sent dead- 
ly sprays of bullets from portholes in the turret. A self- 
destroyer bomb could v;rcck the engine in case of capture, A 
six-cylindor engine moved the fortress at a speed of 6-1/2 
miles pi.r hour» 

The tank, built in Coventry, England, is said to be the 
only one of its kind on this side of the AtLantic, 


Shortly -ftcr the commercial dynamo was perfected in 1882, 
ono of the first cities iu Illinois to use electricity for 
street lighting v/as Decatur. Eight fabricated steel to-.vors, 
125 feet high, resembling the famili-r radio towers of today, 
wore set up at various points in the city. In a ca^o ^t the 
top of each, five c-.rbon arc l.^jnps gave such a powerful il- 
lumination thr,t persons driving toward the city at night were 
harrasscd by its brilliance| 

Page Seventy 

Pioneer Days in 111 

These lajnps lighted raoat of the streets and served as hea- 
cons to travelers for over a decade. By 1895, more tlian a hun- 
dred smaller lights had been installed closer to the ground at 
street intersections* The great towers soon became obsolete, 
but remained tmtil 1910. Their removal did away v/ith a haz- 
ardous challenge to ambitious youths, v.'ho frequently sought to 
show their courage by climbing them. 


One of the eighty great iron kettles used a century ago 
to boil down brine from the famous Vermilion salines in tlic com- 
mercial production of salt nov/ etsnds, five miles ^70St of Dan- 
ville on U, S. Ilighvmy 50, as a monument to a once important 
Illinois industry. It was placed there through the interest 
of the Governor Bradford chapter of the D.A.R. 

The eighty ntammoth kettles, each large enoue^h to hold two 
barrels of brine, were brouj-ht by boat and ox-cart from Louis- 
ville for the salt v/orks of Major John W. Vf?jice, which v/ere 
profitably operated by him from 1834 to 1831 at the salt 
springs discovered in 1819 by Joseph Barron. 

A few of the renainiag kettles are used as v;ater tanks in 
nearby farmy-.rds fjid maple groves. The furrows on a hillside 
where roaring fires heated the immense containers may still be 
scon, but stones th- t formed the fireplaces have been carted 
awny for other uses. 

Page Sevent y-0 n e 

ionuer D.ays in Illinois 


From a bluff almost 100 feet over the Mississippi, r.t Wniv 
sav/, Hfiicock County, a white grpjaite shaft, reaching 50 feot 
tovrard tlic sky, no\7 reminds visitors that the quiet valleys be- 
lov/ held unknown terrors to the pioneers living v/ithin the shad- 
0173 of Fort Edv/n,rds. The only remains of this stronghold arc 
logs from the officers' quarters, now being used for a granary 
in Warsav/, 

The Fort was built in 1814 under the direction of Zachary 
Taylor, then a major in the array. Its site was already a pio- 
neer and trading outpost, just emerging from the ^,r,.r of 1812, 
Ninian EdvTards was governor of the Illinois Territory. Troops 
T/ere stationed at the fort until 1824, -uid again durin,^ the 
Black Hawk V/ar in 1832. The monument, in obelisk, was dedi- 
cated a hundred years after the building of the fort. On its 
base are bronze bas-reliefs of Zachary Taylor, Ninian Edv/ards, 
cud the Fort. 


Clear impressions of early pl-nt life are preserved in ex- 
tensive deposits of shale rock in the Mazon, Carkuff, and other 
fossil beds in Gnindy County. Many of these fossil remains 
may be picked up from the surface in the form of small stones 
commonly about the size of voose eggs. 'rThen these are cracked 
open, they reveal stratifications betv/cen which are traces of 
earlier plant life. Some fossils give evidence of carbon, 
salts of iron, and other pl'^nt minerals. 

ge Sevont y-T v/ o 

Pioneer Days in Illino 


During the panic of 1837, Illinois settlers, because of a 
scarcity of money, often used farm products as a medium of ex- 
changet Cash, however, was required for some services pnd the 
lack of it caused difficulties. 

A woman resident of Spsrland, in Marshall County, made a 
trip by ferry to Lacon, across the Illinois Hiver, paying her 
fare v/ith a dime taken from her small supply of cash* After 
completing her shopping she returned to the boat landing, 
where she discovered that all of her money had been spent. Re- 
turning to the store where she traded, she sought the loan of 
a dime. The proprietor, finding himself without "hard" money, 
succeeded in borrowing the amount. 

When the woman presented the coin to the ferryman, he was 
ajnazed to recognize it as the sajne dime that she had given him 
earlier in the day. 

Page Sevcnt y-T h r e e 

Pioneer Days in Illinoi 


Of the 1400 rauseiims on record for the United States, 61 
arc in Illinois. Most of them are housed in public libraries 
and in miivcrsity, college, rnd school buildings* A consider- 
able revival of interest in these collections is expected as a 
resiilt of centennial celebrations of the founding of Illinois 
cities and towns, a n^^mbe^ of which have already been held. 

Among the museums in Illinois, outside of Chicago, several 
are known for more than one type of collection. In Bloomington 
for example, the Powell Museum of the Illinois Wcslcyan Univer- 
sity is especially noteworthy for the Vasoy Collection of or- 
namental and useful wood, and the Smith Collection of Civil 
^ar relics. The Albert Hiird Museum at Knox College in G-ales- 
burg is knovm particularly for exhibits of algae of the United 
States and New Zealand and Illinois wild flowers. 

At the University of Illinois, the Oriental Muse\un and the 
liuseum of Classical Archeology and Art have unusually important 
collections. The Page Museum of the Illinois State Teachers' 
College at DeKalb emphasizes materials to show historic pro- 
cesses pjid fundamental historic movements. 

At perhaps no other time in the history of the state have 
residents been ns conscious as they no7/ are of the importance 
of museums -^nd the significance of the research work of his- 
torical societies. 

Pago Sevent y-F our 

Pioneer Days in Illino 


Of the 1400 museums on record for the United States, 61 
are in Illinois, Most of them arc housed in public libraries 
and in vuiivcrsity, college, md school buildings. A consider- 
able revival of interest in these collections is expected as a 
result of centennial celebrations of the founding of Illinois 
cities and towns, a number of which have already been held. 

Among the muse\ams in Illinois, outside of Chicavi;o, several 
are known for more than one type of collection* In Bloomington 
for example, the Powell Muse-um of the Illinois Wcslcyan Univer- 
sity is especially noteworthy for the Vasoy Collection of or- 
namental and useful wood, and the Smith Collection of Civil 
War relics. The Albert Kurd Museum at Knox College in Gales- 
burg is knovm particularly for exhibits of algae of the United 
States and New Zealand and Illinois wild flowers. 

At the University of Illinois, the Oriental Museiun and the 
JAisetun of Classical Archeology and Art have unusually important 
collections. The Page Museum of the Illinois State Teachers' 
College at DeKalb emphasizes materials to show historic pro- 
cesses fjid fundamental historic movements. 

At perhaps no other time in the history of the state have 
residents been as conscious as they nov/ arc of the importance 
of museums "nd the significance of the research work of his- 
torical societies. 

Page Sevent y-? our 

Pioneer Days in Illino 


The first time that the Stars and Stripes flew over any 
of the area that is now Illinois may have been June 24, 1778, 
when George Rogers Clark with 15C men entered Illinois terri- 
tory sjid encamped near Fort Massac, now the site of a state 
park. From that point the company moved northwest, a few days 
later, to take Fort Kaskaskia from the English on July A, 
Since Cls.rk had the flag with him at Kaskaskia, it seems prob- 
ahle that when he was at Fort Ivlassac, he unfurled the American 
flag for the first time over Illinois soil. 


Cahokia, in St, Clair County, has claimed the distinction 
of establishing the first public school in the Illinois co\intry. 
Its right to this honor is based on a French document, dated 
May 6, 1764, wherein the citizens requested "the judges of the 
honorable court of Cahokia" to permit them to use t.\e court- 
house for public school purposes* 

The first institution of learning of any sort within the 
present boundaries of the State was probably a seminary estab- 
lished by the early French ?t Kaskaskia, Randolph County, in 
1721, Its influence seems to have been much restricted by the 
poverty of the settlers :^Jid the widely scattered early settle- 

Page Scvent y-F i v e 

Pioneer Days in Illinoi 


Out of 102 Illinois counties only six are named for presi- 
dents of the nation: Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, 
Monroe, and Jackson, Douglas County, organized in 1859, was 
named after Stephen A. Douglas, but Lincoln, the most famous 
name in Illinois history, is not included. 


Coal miners beneath -n Illinois gra.veyr-rd abruptly left 
their tasks on one occasiont The mine extended under a ceme- 
tery south of the Wabash R^.ilroad bridge, in Danville, Ver- 
milion County, much to the dislike of the citizens. One day 
a coffin fell through the roof into the mine tunnel, whereupon 
mp.ny of the miners, badly frightened, promptly quit. 


Eggs a nickel a dozen, rnd butter at seven cents a pound 
were enjoyed by earl;/ settlers in Illinois. In the area now 
called Tinley Park, Cook County, during 1840-50 corn brought 
Idii a bushel, and v;heat prices ranged from 50^ to $1 a bushel. 
Land could be bought from the government for $1,25 an acre, 
and one account tells of 40 acres being purchased in 1864 for 
$2.75. However, while prices v/ere low, wages were also low. 
A farm hand received $150 a year plus board and room, -nd a day 
laborer commonly m^ade only 50 cents in a twelve-hour da,y. 

Pago Scvcnt y-S i x 

Pioneer D,?, ys in Illinoi 


Peggy Logsdon, n physician and pioneer resident, occupies 
a unique place in tlie early annals of southern Illinois. Dr. 
Logsdon practiced in Kentucky, across the Ohio River, as v/ell 
as in Gallatin County, She could hear calls from across the 
river in her home on Sandy Ridge, imjucdiatcly south of Shawnee- 

On one occasion as she set out to respond to a call from 
the Kentucky shore, she discovered her rowboat missing from its 
mooring. Using a fallen tree as a raft, on a branch of ^/hich 
hung her clothes, she swam to the Kentucky shore. 


When Daniel McNeil, Jr., first postmaster of Monmouth, Illi- 
nois, doffed his tall }iat to follow townsmen in the 1830s, he 
was not merely being courteous, .'-nd the eager rar^jiner of those 
whom ho favored v;ith this conventional gesture did not mean 
that they were especially pleased at receiving this attention. 
Their actions meant that McNeil vt3s about to h^aid them the 
day's mail, for Monmouth, like other Illinois frontier towns, 
maintained its postoffice in the postmaster's "stovepipe" hat* 

During eleven years in office, McNeil delivered letters 
and newspapers to the persons for v/hora they were intended V7hen 
he happened to meet them on the streets, and after they had the postage fee, Botv/eon mails he fouiid time to serve as 
president of the first Board of Trustees, county clerk, circuit 
clerk, recorder, -nd probate judge. 

Page Scvent y-S even 



Pioneer Days in Illinois 


A brillir.nt meteoric displny accompanied by earthq\irikc-lilco 
romblings p.lnrmed the residents of nany Illinois tovms sixty- 
four ago. The fall of a heavenly body of ccnsiderable 
magnitude was reported from such widely separated secti-ns as 
Lincoln, Mendota, Bloomin^ton, Peoria, rjid El Paso, 

An Account from Lincoln, in Logan County, stated, "A ro- 
raarkable meteor passed over this city, a few minutes before 
9 p.m, , accompr.nicd by an explosion which shook the earth and 
a nirabling like a train of cnrs. A succession of flashes were 
seen in the southwest aiid it was as light as day for half a 
ninute. Then the meteor seemed to fall in about twenty frag- 
ments in the northeast. The explosions c-me about two minutes 
after the flashes," 

;,raRE A30UT D.-iN CUPID 

The scarcity of marriageable young vonen in pioneer Illi- 
nois towns ad villat^cs sometimes resulted in the practice of 
"courtship-throut-h-the mails." It is said that years rgo, when 
Frecport, Stephenson County, was still in its infancy, a :.ian 
wishing to obtain a wife nrote letters proposing marriage to 
tv/o different girls of ]iis acquaintance at the sane time. In 
great detail, he described himself and his character, his log 
cabin, rjid other worldly possessions. 

By coincidence, the girls were friends, ^nd they decided 
to teach the \.'ould-bG groom a lasting lesson in romr.ncc. Re- 
plying to hin in a single letter that each of them signed, one 
girl demanded constancy, rnd the other love. The tactless 
suitor was, of course, rejected. 

Page Sovent y-E i g h t 

3 1711 00092 7561